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Dylann Roof’s Lawyers Argue Death Penalty Violates Religious Freedoms
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Accused killer Dylann Roof. Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed.

Summary: The lawyers for the accused Charleston church shooter are fighting against a possible death penalty sentence for their client.

Dylann Roof was accused of killing people at a historically black church in South Carolina last summer. On Monday, his lawyers argued that the talk of the death penalty in his case possibly violates the religious freedoms of prospective jury members, according to Buzzfeed.

  
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On June 17, 2015, Roof was accused of entering the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and shooting up a prayer service. He allegedly killed nine people and injured one, and after authorities found and arrested him, he admitted to the crime, in hopes of igniting a race war.

Roof’s lawyers said that questioning jurors about their thoughts on the death penalty was a way “to interrogate private citizens about their religious beliefs.” Their argument was a response to the government’s pushback against their request of striking the death penalty as a punishment for this case, which many view as a hate crime.

Roof’s legal team also said that the death penalty was unconstitutional. They stated that the government had rejected their offer for Roof to plead guilty in exchange for multiple life sentences.

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“[T]his Court should rule that the federal death penalty constitutes a legally prohibited, arbitrary, cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by both the Fifth and Eighth Amendments,” Roof’s lawyers said.

Prosecutors shot back that asking about the death penalty does not violate religious freedoms because a person can oppose the punishment for religious or non-religious reasons.



“A prospective juror’s religion or religious beliefs do not potentially disqualify the juror from service; only his inability to apply the law does so,” prosecutors said.

Jury selection is scheduled to start later this month. Buzzfeed reports that 3,000 Charleston residents are set to participate.

Do you think the death penalty violates religious freedoms? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Buzzfeed



 

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