Jury selection continues in Roof trial; potential jurors struggle with death penalty

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The third day of jury selection in the federal trial of Dylann Roof continued on Wednesday.

Today's hearing lasted longer than the previous two days because of the number of jurors brought in and the number of follow up questions from the prosecution and defense.

Two potential jurors questioned today also had a connection to the case.

One juror, an AME pastor, said he knew three of the victims and was still grieving. The juror was ruled out.

Another juror said a co-worker went to school with Dylann Roof. She said her co-worker remembered him as "quiet" and "respectful."

Forty-four people have qualified for the jury pool of 70 with 17 of those qualified on Wednesday; 15 are women, two are men.

Of those qualified on Wednesday, at least four people are black.

Roof, who is representing himself, is charged with opening fire on a group of black parishioners at Mother Emanuel AME Church in June 2015, killing nine.

Authorities say the shooting was racially motivated.

Potential jurors struggle with death penalty consideration

Before this case, many potential jurors said on Wednesday they never even thought about considering the death penalty.

In order to be fair and impartial, they must be able to confidently say they could impose the death penalty barring any religious or personal objection.

Some struggled with that.

A couple people said their answers changed from the time they filled out questionnaires a couple of months ago, because of the sheer amount of thought and soul-searching they put into the question.

It was apparent that some of the potential jurors were not taking that decision lightly.

Panels of potential jurors will be brought in daily as the court tries to whittle 512 down to 70, and then to a jury of 12 with six alternates, and the process could be complete by the end of the week.

Juror qualification initially began Nov. 7 but was halted after Roof's lawyers requested a competency hearing, which was closed to media and the press.

The judge deemed Roof was competent, and qualification began anew Monday.

Many of those questioned say they're aware of the hearing but said that knowledge wouldn't sway them as jurors.

Copyright 2016 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.