Feds oppose motion to drop charges against accused church shooter

VIDEO: Feds oppose motion to drop charges against accused church shooter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The federal government is opposing a motion to have Dylann Roof's federal trial dismissed, urging the Court to deny it "in its entirety."

Earlier this month, defense attorneys asked for the federal case against the man charged with shooting and killing nine black parishioners during Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston to be dropped, arguing it is unconstitutional. His attorneys believe he should only be tried in state court, where he also faces charges.

In their 75-page response filed Monday, the federal government reaffirmed their stance that they have right to try Roof under the United States Commerce Clause and the 13th Amendment.

"Defendant's motion challenges Congress's authority to enact the civil rights offenses with which he has been charged and also contends his offenses were not crimes of violence," the statement reads. "None of these challenges has merit."

Prosecutors argued charges involving the Commerce Clause, which refers to Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution, gives Congress the power "to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes," are valid because Roof "used several channels and instrumentalities of commerce, as well as things that traveled through interstate commerce - specifically, interstate highways, the internet, telephone and GPS systems, and a gun and ammunition - in planning and committing his attack."

Prosecutors argued charges involving the 13th Amendment are valid because of the broad authority Congress established "to eradicate the vestiges of slavery, including race-based violence."

Roof faces a total of 33 federal charges in the incident. Jury selection for his federal trial is scheduled to start on Nov. 7.

The suspect was indicted on 13 charges in state court. His state trial is scheduled for Jan. 17, 2017.

Read the entire response below:

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