Ac­cused in church shoot­ing in­dicted

Faces dozens of fed­eral charges, in­clud­ing hate crimes

Cape Breton Post - - WORLD -

Five weeks af­ter nine peo­ple were slain at a black in the south­ern state of South Carolina, U.S. author­i­ties have in­dicted the sus­pected shooter on dozens of new charges, in­clud­ing hate crimes, firearms vi­o­la­tions and ob­struct­ing the prac­tice of re­li­gion.

The pros­e­cu­tion, par­tic­u­larly on hate crimes, has been ex­pected since the June 17 shoot­ings at Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston. The sus­pected shooter, 21-year-old Dy­lann Roof, is white and ap­peared in photos wav­ing Con­fed­er­ate flags and burn­ing or des­e­crat­ing U.S. flags. He pur­port­edly wrote online of fo­ment­ing racial vi­o­lence, and fed­eral author­i­ties on Wed­nes­day con­firmed his use of a per­sonal man­u­script in which he de­cried in­te­gra­tion and used racial slurs to re­fer to blacks.

Roof is sched­uled to be ar­raigned Mon­day on the new charges, ac­cord­ing to court records. On Thurs­day, the fed­eral judge as­signed to the case pro­vi­sion­ally ap­pointed David Bruck to rep­re­sent Roof on the fed­eral charges. Bruck was the lawyer for Bos­ton Marathon Dzhokhar Tsar­naev, who was sen­tenced to death, and Su­san Smith, the South Carolina mother sen­tenced to life for drown­ing her two sons.

Hate crimes cases can be tricky to bring, with the onus on author­i­ties to prove a sus­pect’s mo­ti­va­tions and in­ten­tions. But one ex­pert who has fol­lowed this case says some of the ex­ten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances of Roof ’s case could po­ten­tially make it eas­ier for pros­e­cu­tors — and more dif­fi­cult for his de­fence team.

“All a jury is go­ing to have to do is look at the crime that was com­mit­ted and the vic­tims that he se­lected and then read what he wrote in ad­vance, and then look at the photos, as well as things that he might have said to peo­ple about why he was com­mit­ting the crimes,” Cor­nell Law School pro­fes­sor Jens Oh­lin said. “This strikes me as an in­cred­i­bly easy case for a fed­eral pros­e­cu­tion. It’s not clear to me at all what kind of de­fence strat­egy his lawyers could come up with.”

Although what tack Roof ’s de­fence lawyers might take is un­clear, Oh­lin said their job may be made even more dif­fi­cult if Roof were to be un­apolo­getic for any of the photos or writ­ings.

“Dy­lann Roof might ob­ject to his lawyers try­ing to de­fend him against the hate crimes charges,” Oh­lin said. “If the lawyers go in there and say, ‘This wasn’t a hate crime’ — he might not let his lawyers say that. His view might be: ‘ This was a hate crime, and I’m proud of it.”’

Dy­lann Roof ap­pears at a court hear­ing in Charleston, S.C., on Thurs­day, July 16, 2015.

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