Charleston Church Shooting Trial Postponed; Jury Selection Halted

Due to a motion filed by Dylann Roof’s attorney on Monday morning, jury selection has been adjourned to a later date in the Charleston church shooting case.

The first day of the court hearing in the Charleston church shooting trial was marked with great anticipation the from the public as many keenly followed the case to know if the justice system of the united States can prove itself to be unbiased in another racially charged murder case. Unfortunately, their anticipation was cut short when the federal judge announced the adjournment of the hearing. The jury selection which was to be made today to kick start the hearing was postponed due to a late motion filed by the council of Dylann Roof which the judge said needed immediate attention before the commencement of the case. What might have necessitated this motion? Might it have any influence on the outcome of the judgment? We have compiled reliable facts from authentic sources for our cherished readers. Read further to get the details of today’s incident at the court.

ATLANTABLACK STAR

Just as the death penalty trial against Charleston church shooting culprit, Dylann Roof entered its final phase Monday morning, a federal judge decided to postpone jury selection for the case.

Per Reuters, U.S. Judge Richard Gergel instead scheduled a private hearing with Roof and his lawyers to discuss issues surrounding attorney-client privilege and the defendant’s right to a fair trial. Roof was charged with 33 federal counts of hate crimes, obstruction of religion and use of a firearm in a violent crime for his attack that left nine Black parishioners dead at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina last June.

The 22-year-old self-professed white supremacist opened fire on the unsuspecting group of churchgoers during Bible study on June 17 with hopes of starting a race war. Prosecutors said Roof had been planning the heinous attack for months.

Judge Gergel’s surprising decision came after 30 members of the victims’ families had been seated in the courtroom as Roof sat at the defense table donning a gray and white striped prison jumpsuit, Reuters reports.

“I have received a motion in this case this morning requiring my immediate attention and the conducting of a hearing involving only the defendant and defense counsel,” the judge said from the bench, reading from a statement. Read more.

MSN NEWS

Gergel said he did not know the full subject matter of Monday’s closed hearing, but that issues remaining in the case included contested evidence. He said Roof’s rights would be prejudiced by an open hearing.

“It’s necessary to do it right,” Gergel said in court.

Prosecutors said the victims’ relatives were frustrated at being shut out of the hearing, having waited so long for the trial.

Dozens of family members had been seated in the courtroom on Monday before the surprise announcement. Roof sat at the defense table, wearing a gray and white striped prison jumpsuit.

Roof has offered to plead guilty if the death penalty were dropped, court filings show.
He also faces a death sentence if found guilty of murder in state court in a trial scheduled for next year. Read more.

USA TODAY

In a 10 a.m. hearing where interested parties could object to the closure of the hearing, lead prosecutor Jay Richardson said he had no qualms with the private meeting, but said he did want to express frustrations from several family members who appeared.

Several members of the media also registered objections, with Gergel noting that the hearing would be transcribed and those portions that do not violate Roof’s right to a fair trial or violate attorney-client privilege would be released, pending his review.

One member of the public, Cheryl McGinnis, addressed Gergel, saying she had no tie to the shooting, but arrived in a show of support with victims.

“I’m a mom from New York City and I feel very strongly that the public deserves transparency,” said McGinnis. “I understand attorney-client privilege, but I do feel strongly we need as much transparency as possible.”

The court had previously announced it would not hold jury selection Tuesday, Election Day, and the process is scheduled to resume Wednesday.

Roof had offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, a deal that was rejected by federal prosecutors who are seeking a death sentence.

Twenty prospective jurors are scheduled to be interviewed each day, with 10 reporting in the morning and another 10 arriving for questioning after lunch.

The jury pool, which began when summonses were issued to 3,000 residents in Charleston County and eight surrounding counties, was narrowed to 512 by late last week.

Some jurors were earlier excused “for cause” — common-sense reasons such as familiarity with a trial participant or inability to leave a small child. Those who moved on completed a questionnaire.

Based on questionnaire answers, the court, with input from defense attorneys and prosecutors, determined many of the candidates were not qualified and excused them.

In a death penalty case, prospective jurors who say they would not be able to recommend a sentence of execution are not considered for a final panel, as are those who seem overzealous regarding the death penalty.

Jury qualification will continue until 70 members of the pool who are deemed qualified by the court, a process that at its earliest could end early next week, but could take much longer depending on the pace of the proceeding.

After the selection of the 70 prospective jurists, defense attorneys and prosecutors can begin striking members of the panel. Under federal rule, each side is allowed 20 strikes. Gergel has additionally allowed the prosecution and defense an additional three strikes each, to be used only for alternate jurors, until a panel of a dozen jurors and six alternates is reached. Read more.

The drama still unfolds in the Charleston church shooting trial. It seems judges are a bit reluctant to pass judgment looking at the various forms of delay tactics being played out by the court. I bet if it was a Black man, he wouldn’t have even been alive by now, talk less of delaying the trial. Are we going to see another racially motivated crime thrown out of the court room? Stick and stay with us as we bring you the ins and outs on this case.

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