Church shooter’s attorney calls state prosecutor ‘reckless’

The attorney representing the man who faces dual-death penalty trials for killing nine churchgoers called a South Carolina prosecutor’s desire to go to trial before federal authorities “reckless and shortsighted,” the Associated Press reported.

Public defender Ashley Pennington said that if Solicitor Scarlett Wilson wants justice, she should accept Dylann Roof’s offer to plead guilty to murder in exchange for a life sentence.

“If the Solicitor were truly concerned with certainty and finality, she would be satisfied with an agreed-upon federal trial schedule, rather than seeking a speeded-up and unworkable new trial schedule in the State Court,” Pennington wrote in a state court filing on Wednesday.

“Or she could immediately achieve both certainty and finality by accepting the defendant’s longstanding offer to plead guilty as charged to all counts in state court, and accept a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole,” he wrote.

The Associated Press stated Pennington’s arguments mirror statements in Roof’s federal hate crimes case, where his defenders also want prosecutors to drop the death penalty and accept a guilty plea.

Both state and federal authorities are pushing for a death sentence despite filing different charges. Roof was charged with 33 federal charges including 12 hate crimes. State prosecutors also said they are pushing for the death penalty because Roof killed more than two people. South Carolina does not have a hate crime law.

Last June, Roof, a white man, attended a prayer service at the Emanuel AME Church and after an hour sitting with congregants, he opened fire. He was arrested the next morning at a traffic stop in Shelby, North Carolina. He confessed that he hoped the massacre would ignite a race war.

[ Associated Press ]