[JURIST] Dylann Roof, the man charged with killing nine black church members attending Emanuel AME Church [official website] in Charleston last month, entered [Reuters report] a ‘temporary’ not guilty plea Friday. Roof has been indicted on 33 charges including federal hate crimes and firearms charges for killing and attempting to kill African-Americans based on race and in an effort to interfere with the victims right to exercise their religious beliefs. Roof’s attorney said that Roof wanted to plead guilty to the charges. Roof could face penalties of up to life imprisonment or the death penalty for the charges set forth in the indictment. US Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced [JURIST report] the federal indictment of Dylann Roof in July.
Dylann Roof attended a bible study session at the Charleston church on June 17. Toward the end of the meeting, witnesses say Roof opened fire on the group killing six women and three men, including the pastor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who was also a South Carolina State Senator. The suspect was captured the following day in Shelby, North Carolina, about 245 miles away from the location of the shooting. The shooting led to renewed focus on the use of the Confederate flag, with many people across the country calling to end its use, after it was learned that Roof had posted several photos of himself with the flag. The South Carolina Senate [official website] approved a bill [JURIST report] earlier this month to remove the Confederate flag from the State House and the Capitol Complex. The bill was signed into law [JURIST report] by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley [official website] just days later.