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.
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.