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Dylann Roof, charged with murdering nine worshippers at a historic black church in Charleston last month, listens to the proceedings with assistant defense attorney William Maguire during a hearing at the Judicial Center in Charleston

Dylann Roof will face death penalty in Charleston church shooting trial

Federal prosecutors announced Tuesday that they will seek the death penalty in the case against Dylann Roof, the 20-year-old accused of killing nine worshippers at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina last year.

In a statement released today, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said following the Justice Department’s review of all of the case’s “relevant factual and legal issues,” federal authorities decided to pursue a death penalty against Roof.

“The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision,” Lynch said in the statement.

According to The Post and Courier, today’s decision means Roof faces two trials in court, one state, one federal. In April, a judge in Charleston County rescheduled Roof’s trial in state court for early January 2017 after defense lawyers filed a motion to request the extra time. State charges include nine counts of murder.

A date has yet to be set for the federal trial. Last year, a grand jury indicted Roof on 33 federal counts, including hate crime and firearms charges. Roof pleaded not guilty to all the charges.


Lynch’s decision comes nearly a year since Roof opened fire during June 17 Bible study gathering at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, killing nine people.

Following the shooting, photos of Roof emerged that showed him posing with the Confederate battle flag. Roof reportedly wrote a manifesto that revealed a history of racial hatred.

WATCH: America After Charleston hosted by Gwen Ifill

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