Dylann Storm Roof’s attorneys filed a legal challenge to the U.S. death penalty Monday. (August 1) Roof’s legal counsel said they would drop their filing if prosecutors dropped their pursuit of the death penalty.
Roof, 22, is accused of killing nine people inside a historic African-American church in Charleston, S.C., on June 17, 2015 with the intentions of starting a race war. Roof was captured shortly after the horrific killing in North Carolina, and charged with 33 federal offenses, including hate crimes.
Back in May, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch released a statement stating the Justice Department would seek the death penalty if Roof was found guilty of the heinous crimes.
“Following the department’s rigorous review process to thoroughly consider all relevant factual and legal issues, I have determined that the Justice Department will seek the death penalty. The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision.”
Roof’s lawyers said they only wanted to raise questions about the death penalty with the federal challenge, which stems from the “government’s decision to seek the defendant’s execution rather than accepting his proffered pleas of guilty and willingness to accept multiple sentences of life imprisonment without possibility of release.”
The lawyers then outlined several reasons against the death penalty stating it was “arbitrary, cruel and unusual punishment” along with it violating the Fifth and Eighth amendments.