The jury selection process has been postponed in the federal trial of a South Carolina man who fatally shot nine black parishioners at a historically black church last year.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel delayed the selection to Wednesday, responding to requests from 22-year-old Dylann Roof’s attorneys, regarding Roof’s right to a fair and impartial jury. The hearing was closed to the public.
Roof is charged with hate crimes, obstruction of exercise of religion, and the use of a firearm to commit murder. He will face two death penalty trials, one for both racial and religious hate crimes and the second for murder charges.
"The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said regarding the decision to week the death penalty for Roof, according to CNN.
In June 2015, Roof entered Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston during a Wednesday night BIble study and opened fire, killing nine and injuring three.
The jury pool was narrowed down to 512 from 3,000 residents from the Charleston area and eight neighboring counties. Prospective jurors will be interviewed in groups of 10 until 70 of them are deemed qualified, after which attorneys will use strikes to further narrow the pool of prospective jurists. Eventually, twelve jurors and six alternates will be seated for the case.