South Carolina

Judge Gergel advances date of Dylann Roof’s next hearing

Dylann Roof
Dylann Roof

Federal Judge Richard Gergel has moved the date of a court hearing for accused race killer Dylann Roof forward one day, to June 7, in Charleston.

Gergel gave no reason for the change.

The hearing at 2 pm on June 7 will be the first for Roof since federal prosecutors announced Tuesday afternoon they will seek the death penalty.

At the upcoming hearing, Gergel, federal prosecutors and defense lawyers will likely discuss the date for Roof’s death penalty trial.

For months, Gergel has been pressing federal prosecutors on whether they will seek the death penalty – a far more lengthy and expensive process than a regular trial, or a guilty plea, which Roof’s lawyers have said he wants to do. Gergel needs to know the answer to that question so he can schedule court time at the federal court complex in Charleston.

Roof, 22, of Columbia, faces federal hate crime charges involving murder in the shooting deaths of nine African Americans, and the wounding of three others, at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston last June. Roof is a self-avowed white supremacist who wrote in a manifesto published on the Internet that he was going to Charleston to start a race war.

Roof also faces the murder charges in state court, where Solicitor Scarlett Wilson is seeking the death penalty. A trial in that case is set for January in Charleston.