- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Tuesday the Justice Department will seek the death penalty for Dylann Roof, the white man accused of shooting and killing nine black churchgoers in a Charleston, South Carolina church last year.

“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,” Ms. Lynch said in a statement. “The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision.”

The decision by the DOJ to seek the death penalty on federal charges mirrors an earlier decision made by local prosecutors last year.

Federal prosecutors say Mr. Roof targeted his victims, who were gunned down during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, as a form of retribution against blacks, whom he blamed for wrongs committed against whites in society. He posted photos of himself on social media with the Confederate battle flag and wearing icons of the racist former regimes of South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

Mr. Roof was indicted on 33 federal charges in July in addition to the local murder charges.

Use of the death penalty in federal cases is rare. Since 1988, when the federal death penalty was reinstated, attorneys general have authorized capital punishment about 500 times. Of those cases, 75 defendants have been sentenced to death and three have been executed, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Earlier this month, the Justice Department announced that it would not seek the death penalty against Ahmed Abu Khattala, the suspected Libyan militant charged in the attack in Benghazi that killed a US ambassador and three other Americans.

However Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is awaiting a death sentence handed down in 2015.

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