Attorneys for Dylann Roof, who is accused of killing nine parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., are calling the federal case against their client unconstitutional and want the charges dropped, U.S. News reported via the Associated Press.
Roof’s lawyers state that the 33 federal charges he faces, which include a series of hate crimes and obstructing the practice of religion, infringe on the state’s murder case.
“The charges at issue are extremely grave, but under the Constitution they are not properly charged,” Sarah Gannett, one of Roof’s attorneys, said. “The defendant therefore requests that the indictment be dismissed.”
Despite South Carolina lacking a hate crimes statute, Gannett stressed in her motion there is no data that shows that crimes motivated by hate go unpunished on a state level. Therefore, there is no need for the federal case against her client. Gannett also argued “that the federal government does not have the constitutional authority to prosecute him under the Commerce Clause and the 13th Amendment and that this case violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment,” WCSC News noted.
Ironically, Gannett said she will withdraw their motion and that her 22-year-old client would plead guilty to state charges if the feds take the death penalty off the table. Federal prosecutors have until the 25 of July to respond to Gannett’s motion.
“The motion is being made only because the statutes at issue form the basis of the government’s request for the death penalty,” the motion states. “Should the government’s death notice be withdrawn at any point in the future, the defendant will withdraw this motion and plead guilty as charged to all counts in the indictment.”
In the meantime, jury selection for Roof’s federal trial is scheduled to start on November 7.