Charleston church shooter seeks trial by court instead of jury

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
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: Photographs of the nine victims killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina are held up by congregants during a prayer vigil at the the Metropolitan AME Church June 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. Earlier today the suspect in the case, Dylan Storm Roof, was charged with nine counts of murder. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: Photographs of the nine victims killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina are held up by congregants during a prayer vigil at the the Metropolitan AME Church June 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. Earlier today the suspect in the case, Dylan Storm Roof, was charged with nine counts of murder. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: Congregants depart a prayer vigil for the nine victims killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church pass by photographs of the nine shooting victims in Charleston, South Carolina outside the the Metropolitan AME Church June 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. Earlier today the suspect in the case, Dylan Storm Roof, was charged with nine counts of murder. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
A woman holds a sign and the funeral program for shooting victim Cynthia Hurd's funeral service at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina June 27, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Miczek
Standing before the presidential rostrum, Rev. Sharon Risher reacts as she holds a photo of her mother Ethel who was a victim in the Charleston Church mass shooting last year during an event held by U.S. President Barack Obama to announce new gun control measures, at the White House in Washington January 5, 2016. Obama made an emotional plea on Tuesday in defense of his administration's plan to increase background checks for buyers of firearms over the Internet and at gun shows, saying current exceptions do not make sense.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Pleshette Grant and her son Evan arrive for funeral services to begin for Ethel Lance at the Royal Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, South Carolina June 25, 2015. Lance is one of the nine victims of the mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Clifford Jones waits for funeral services to begin for Ethel Lance at the Royal Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, South Carolina, June 25, 2015. Lance is one of the nine victims of the mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. REUTERS/Brian Snyder TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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)
SHE HAS A NAME; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, a mother of four daughters, singer in church choir was killed at AME. http://t.co/YoqNF1yiOD
SHE HAS A NAME: Myra Thompson, killed last night at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. She was teaching bible study. http://t.co/NlqoNfjPP2
HE HAS A NAME: Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr., another pastor at the Emanuel AME church who was killed last night. http://t.co/n4sz9GBBxf
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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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