Charleston church shooter seeks trial by court instead of jury

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The Charleston Church Shooter Wants to Waive His Right to a Jury

June 9 (Reuters) - The white man accused of killing nine black parishioners in a racially motivated attack at a church in South Carolina a year ago said on Thursday he would like to waive his right to a jury trial, opting instead to be tried and sentenced by the court.

The court filing said federal prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty against Dylann Roof over the June 17, 2015, killings, will object to the move. The attack occurred during a Bible study session at Charleston's historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

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"Counsel for the government has informed defense counsel that the government will not consent to waive jury at either stage of this case," the filing by Roof's attorneys said.

The filing did not indicate why Roof wants to waive his right to jury trial.

Representatives for the prosecutors in the case could not immediately be reached for comment.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel set a date of Nov. 7 for the federal trial against Roof to begin. A state capital punishment trial is also scheduled for January.

RELATED: Charleston shooting victims

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Charleston church shooter seeks trial by court instead of jury
A note on the sidewalk includes photos of the nine who were killed at a memorial in front of the Emanuel AME Church on Friday, June 19, 2015 in Charleston, S.C. Dylann Storm Roof, 21, is accused of killing nine people during a Wednesday night Bible study at the church. ( Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) 
Walter Jackson holds a photo of his mother Susie Jackson, one of the nine people killed in Wednesday's shooting at Emanuel AME Church, as he stands on his front porch Friday, June 19, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
S.C. Sen. Clementa Pinckney, pictured in 2012, was among those killed Wednesday, June 17, 2015 in a shooting in a church in downtown Charleston, S.C. (Andy Shain/The State/TNS via Getty Images)
In this photo taken on May 12, 2003, Cynthia Hurd, a head librarian with the Charleston County Library's John L. Dart Branch, poses for a picture in Charleston, S.C. Hurd was among the victims who were fatally shot Wednesday, June 17, 2015, allegedly at the hands of a young white man who sat among a prayer group at The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, S.C. (Adam Ferrell /The Post And Courier via AP)
In this undated photo made available by Anita Brewer Dantzler shows Tywanza Sanders on the day of his graduation from Allen University in Columbia, SC. Sanders was killed by a gunman while attending a Bible study at The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC., Wednesday, June 17, 2015. (Anita Brewer Dantzler via AP)
A picture of Sharonda Coleman-Singleton sits on a large paper signed by students, teachers and friends on Thursday, June 18, 2015, in Goose Creek, S.C. Goose Creek High School held a memorial for the speech pathologist and girls track coach, who was one of the nine people killed on Wednesday night by a gunman at Emanuel AME Church where she was a part-time minister. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Najee Washington holds a photo of her grandmother Ethel Lance, one of the nine people killed in Wednesday's shooting at Emanuel AME Church, as she stands outside her home Friday, June 19, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. "She cared for everyone. She took care of people. She would give her last to anyone," said Washington. "That's what she was and that's what she'll always be." (AP Photo/David Goldman)
SHE HAS A NAME; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, a mother of four daughters, singer in church choir was killed at AME.
SHE HAS A NAME: Myra Thompson, killed last night at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. She was teaching bible study.
HE HAS A NAME: Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr., another pastor at the Emanuel AME church who was killed last night.

Roof, 22, faces different charges in each case. State prosecutors charged him with murder and attempted murder, while federal prosecutors charged him with 33 counts including hate crimes, obstruction of religion and firearms offenses.

Jury selection in the state trial is due to start in early December, which could overlap with the federal proceedings. Gergel estimated on Tuesday that jury selection and the guilt and penalty phases of the federal trial could last six weeks.

A number of remembrance events are planned in Charleston, including a Bible study and service at the church as well as a service at the arena where President Barack Obama gave the eulogy for the church's slain pastor roughly a year ago.

The shooting shook the country and intensified debate over U.S. race relations, which were already roiled by numerous high-profile police killings of unarmed black people.

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