The U.S. Attorney General, Loretta E. Lynch, announced Tuesday that the Justice Department will seek the death penalty in the case of the United States v. Dylann Roof.
“Following the department’s rigorous review process to thoroughly consider all relevant factual and legal issues, I have determined that the Justice Department will seek the death penalty,” Lynch said in a statement. “The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision.”
Roof, 22, was formally charged with nine counts of murder in state court for the 2015 summer attack at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. He is also facing 33 federal hate crime and firearms charges.
Back in April, a South Carolina federal judge held a hearing to delay the case regarding the shooting deaths of nine parishioners.
Roof shot and killed Black church-goers during Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, which later sparked huge social debate about race and gun control in the United States.
Roof’s friend, Joseph Meek was accused of knowing about Roof’s plan to execute Black church-goers before it took place last year. Meek is charged with concealing knowledge of a crime and lying to an FBI agent after the shooting, according to a Reuters report.
Meek’s trial is scheduled for 9 a.m. June 27, according to reports from The Post and Courier in South Carolina. If convicted, Meek faces up to 8 years in prison.