Jury pool of 600 to be summoned in church shooting case
Charleston, S.C. — A South Carolina judge has ordered that a jury pool of 600 people be summoned in the trial of a white man accused in the shooting deaths of nine black parishioners at a Charleston church.
The state is seeking the death penalty in the trial of 21-year-old Dylann Roof, who faces nine counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and a weapons charge in the slayings that occurred during a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church last June.
The trial is set to begin on July 11.
On Wednesday, Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson issued an order saying a jury pool of 600 is needed because of the complexity of the case. The judge also ordered that questionnaires that will be used to screen potential jurors remain sealed until they are given to members of the jury pool June 28.
Members of the pool will then report back to the court in groups of 20 to be questioned by attorneys the day the trial is set to begin. Attorneys have said the trial is expected to last several weeks.
Roof also faces dozens of charges, including hate crimes and obstruction of the practice of religion, in federal court. Prosecutors have not yet said whether the federal government will seek the death penalty and indicated in earlier hearings it could be March before the Justice Department makes a decision. A hearing on the status of that case will be held next month.