The U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday it would seek the death penalty against Dylann Roof, the man facing state and federal charges for allegedly murdering nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, last summer.
“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,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement Tuesday. “The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision.”
Roof, 22, is scheduled to appear in state court on June 28, where he also faces the death penalty despite his willingness to plead guilty in exchange for life in prison without parole. Roof faces 33 federal charges, including 24 civil rights violations. Roof declared his willingness to plead guilty to the federal charges, but his attorney David Bruck said he was not willing to advise a guilty plea until the U.S. Justice Department decided whether it was pursuing the death penalty.