SOUTH CAROLINA – Church shooter pleads not guilty
CHARLESTON –– Dylann Roof pleaded not guilty today to 33 federal charges in the deadly June attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, according to the court clerk’s office.
Earlier this month, a grand jury indicted Roof on 33 counts, including federal hate crime and firearms charges, in the shooting that killed nine people.
Roof, 21, already faces a number of state charges in the shooting. South Carolina, however, doesn’t have a hate crime law, prosecutors said.
The Reverend Clementa Pinckney, a former state senator who was the church pastor, was among those killed.
Roof was captured in North Carolina the day after the June 17 attack and was brought back to South Carolina. Law enforcement officials have said he admitted to the killings.
If he’s found guilty of the federal charges, Roof faces life imprisonment or the death penalty, but federal prosecutors said they haven’t decided on whether to seek the death penalty.
South Carolina authorities have provided an image on Twitter of Roof wearing a jacket with the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia, a former British colony where a white minority ruled until 1980 and whose name was changed to Zimbabwe.
Roof also had a website called The Last Rhodesian that included a long, hate-filled racist manifesto. The site included photos of Roof burning an American flag, taking aim with a pistol and posing proudly at places connected to the Confederacy.