ABC reports that Dylann Roof, who was convicted for murdering 9 people in Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in June 2015, has asked for a new federal trial. Roof was sentenced to death. Roof’s argument is that federal prosecutors lacked jurisdiction to bring their case against him.
Represented by attorneys, they claim that the federal government failed to prove that Roof’s use of the internet, the highways, and a gun manufactured out of state, were sufficient links to allow religious obstruction charges. A similar argument was made in July 2016 as a part of Roof’s plea bargain that if the government took the death penalty off the table, that he would plea guilty as charged. The court denied Roof’s motion.
A federal grand jury found that Roof violated subsections of federal law 18 U.S.C. 247 in that he intentionally obstructed, by force, the enjoyment of free exercise of religious beliefs. That section requires that the circumstances takes place in or affects interstate or foreign commerce.
Roof is currently in custody in the Charleston County jail awaiting trial in state court.