UPDATED: 10:51AM 12/8/16 —
A federal judge has denied a defense request for a mistrial in Dylann Roof’s trial in the Charleston church shooting.
Judge Richard Gergel said Thursday that a survivor’s testimony about Roof belonging “in the pit of hell” was not a statement on what his sentence should be. The judge told attorneys he interpreted Felicia Sanders testimony as “a religious comment.”
The judge instructed jurors that any decision on guilt or a sentence is up to the jury – not the attorneys or witnesses in the case.
Roof is on trial for hate crimes and other counts in the June 2015 shootings of nine black parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The defense, in a motion Thursday, asked for a mistrial saying that Sanders’ testimony suggested a sentence. Sanders also called Roof evil during her testimony.
Original post: 12/7/16
The 12 jurors who will hear the death penalty trial of Dylann Roof have been picked and will decide whether the white man killed nine black people in racially motivated attack at a Charleston church.
Jury selection took about 20 minutes Wednesday. Police say Roof shot nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015.
Authorities say the 22-year-old man wanted to start a race war. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel only allowed one pool reporter to watch the jury selection, and she said she couldn’t immediately determine the racial makeup of the panel.
Court officials also didn’t release the races of the jurors.
Roof faces hate crime and obstruction of religion charges. If jurors find him guilty, they will decide if he should be put to death. Opening statements are expected Wednesday morning.