MONDAY, JULY 18TH 2016
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — In what one attorney called a victory for jurors during a trial that is expected to last months – through the holiday season – and possibly into next year, a U.S. District Court judge agreed with Dylann Roof’s defense team to pick a jury from the greater Charleston area.
That means some 1,500 people will be called on jury duty in Roof’s federal hate crimes trial in November, and they will all come from an area of the state south of Georgetown.
“It’s a win for the jurors,” said attorney Andy Savage, who is serving as a counselor to the survivors and victims’ families during Roof’s state and federal trials.
“Everybody is going to have heard about this case,” Savage said. “The issue is if… they can set that aside in this case and look at facts and circumstances presented in the courtroom.”
Tyrone Sanders, the father of one of the victims and husband of one of the survivors of the Emanuel AME attack, said he’s satisfied with the decision.
“Since it happened here, I think people here would feel more inclined to make sure this guy gets what he deserves,” Sanders said.
The defense also agreed not to file for a change of venue later this year.
Judge Richard Gergel also settled several ongoing issues in the case, including how much access the government can have to Roof’s mental health history and the details of his mental evaluation.
Roof’s chief counsel David Bruck, who defended Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Boston bomber trial, asked to have the case-specific jury questionnaire handled by attorneys, but Gergel said in the South Carolina federal district it’s court-directed. That means Gergel will put together a list of specific questions that attorneys will use to disqualify potential jurors in November before arguments begin.
Still hanging out there waiting for a decision is whether the defense will be allowed to have someone in the room during Roof’s mental evaluation conducted by the government’s expert.
The defense wants to be present, but the U.S. government is pushing for something less, like an audio or video recording of the interaction.
Gergel said he wanted to hear more from the attorneys on the matter and told them to file more specific arguments within the next five days.
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