Dylann Roof, the man accused of killing nine people at a Charleston church last year, is facing state and federal charges for the massacre. When he will actually stand trial, though, remains an open question.
Attorneys for Roof asked authorities to postpone the state trial currently scheduled to begin this summer, more than a year after the shooting rampage in the historic Emanuel AME Church. On Wednesday, a judge granted that request, pushing the trial back to early next year.
Roof is also facing federal charges, but his federal trial has been delayed twice so far this year because the Justice Department has not decided if it will seek the death penalty.
Prosecutors in South Carolina have already made that decision in their case. They are seeking a death sentence for Roof, who has been charged with nine counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder.
Scarlett A. Wilson, prosecutor for Charleston County, said that the church massacre “was the ultimate crime, and justice from our state calls for the ultimate punishment.”
During a hearing Wednesday, Judge J.C. Nicholson said he was pushing back the trial to January 2017 because Roof’s attorneys had said they needed more time to have him undergo a psychiatric evaluation, according to the Post and Courier newspaper.
While Nicholson questioned whether the incomplete tests were a “delaying tactic,” as the hearing occurred 10 months after the shooting, he still said he felt obligated to accept the delay, the Post and Courier reported.
After the church shooting, authorities said that they found a racist manifesto that Roof posted on his website, filled with racial stereotypes and angry diatribes against black, Jewish and Hispanic people. In this manifesto, he talked about the need for a person to “have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”
The site was also filled with photos of Roof holding a .45-caliber Glock pistol and a Confederate flag. One official said it was last modified just hours before the shooting took place.
In the federal case, the judge has asked the Justice Department to make the death penalty decision soon so the trial can get underway. Roof’s attorneys have said he intends to plead guilty to the federal hate crime charges, but said they cannot advise him on that until federal officials make a decision on the death penalty.
This post has been updated with the results of the hearing.