On Tuesday, a public protest over who goes first in Charleston shooter Dylann Roof’s upcoming death penalty trials broke out in a South Carolina court.
The State reports that the protest was made by 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, who filed a plea in circuit court. She argued that the state – and not federal prosecutors – should put Roof on trial first for the June 2015 murders of nine Black worshippers at Charleston’s historic Emaneul AME Church.
On May 24, federal prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty, but for 10 months, Wilson had planned to put Roof on trial on Jan. 17, a date set by state Circuit Judge John Nicholson. But on June 7, U.S. Judge Richard Gergel of Charleston announced that Roof’s federal death penalty trial would happen before then. The eight-week trial period was slated to begin on Nov. 7.
Wilson argued the disruption was done “at the urging of” Roof’s lawyers handling his defense. She noted a host of needless jurisdictional complications that will result in federal prosecutors going first, as well as another serious complication that could occur if the federal governmnt isn’t serious about carrying out a death penalty against Roof.
“The United States has not carried out a death sentence since March 2003,” Wilson wrote. “The State can have no confidence that the U.S. will ever seek to carry out a death sentence.”
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