Accused Charleston church gunman faces long wait for trial

VIDEO: Accused Charleston church gunman faces long wait for trial

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Police say the man who opened fire inside Mother Emanuel should not have been able to buy the gun used in the shooting.

An FBI error led to a breakdown in the background check system. Dylann Roof is facing state and federal charges including hate crime, and gun charges.

Since the day after the murders, Roof has been held at the Al Cannon Detention center. he's being held in solitary confinement for his own safety. Right now the plans for Roof's state trial are scheduled to begin six months from now in January of next year.

That would make it 18 months since the murders. So why is it taking so long to bring Dylann Roof to trial?

State Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson wouldn't agree to an on-camera interview, but has said she needs time to prepare for another high-profile trial that is scheduled to begin in October.

Roof's defense team also wouldn't talk on camera, but, they've said the case could be over tomorrow if Wilson were to take the death penalty off the table and allow Roof to plead guilty and get life without parole.

Dr. Gibbs Knotts says that's not likely to happen. He's the chair of the political science department at College of Charleston and believes unless Wilson gets a sense from the victim's family members they want life in prison, she will go for the death penalty, especially since he points out she's up for re-election.

"I think Wilson is in a difficult position because this is a pro-death penalty state," Knotts says. "The majority of her constituents support the death penalty and so it's not surprising she wants to go after the death penalty.

Knotts says although most Americans support the death penalty, most African Americans, by a slim majority, are against it.

"Certainly, this was such a horrific event and certainly the whole world looked at Charleston and really admired Charleston for how they handled the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, and forgiveness was one of the key words, and so I think if Wilson found out that a majority of the family or all the families wanted to see the death penalty off the table, in favor of a special trial in favor of ensuring a conviction, in favor of putting this away, I don't think that would hurt her politically," Knotts says.

But so far, there is no indication that will happen. The feds also plan to seek the death penalty against Roof.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the racist nature of the murders, the planning of the attack, and Roof's apparent lack of remorse led to her decision.

Roof's friend, Joey Meek pleaded guilty to knowing about the crime ahead of time, and lying to the FBI about it. He has not yet been sentenced.

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