Federal prosecutors provide details following motion to dismiss Dylann Roof’s charges

Attorneys assert federal jurisdiction in case

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SAM SPENCE/FILE
  • Sam Spence/file
Federal prosecutors allege that Dylann Roof placed a call to Emanuel AME Church prior to last June’s shooting and used nearly 80 rounds of ammunition in the attack, according to new court documents.

In response to a challenge over the constitutionality of federal charges against Roof, attorneys for the prosecution have filed a response detailing how Roof’s alleged actions affected interstate commerce. Previously, Roof’s federal defense team filed a motion to dismiss much of his indictment, claiming that their client had not been properly charged under the rules of the U.S. Constitution. In that motion, the defense argued that the federal indictment blurred the line between national and local authority, stating, “Mr. Roof lived in South Carolina, all of the alleged preparation for the crime took place in South Carolina, and the crime was committed in South Carolina.”

Following this move by the defense, federal prosecutors were asked by the court to provide a “bill of particulars” listing the ways in which Roof’s alleged actions relate to matters of interstate commerce, thus supporting the government’s ability to level charges. In that response, prosecutors point to the use of interstate highways, the internet, and a firearm and ammunition produced out of state as justification that the shooting at Mother Emanuel reaches beyond local jurisdictions.

Among the allegations laid out by the prosecution are claims that Roof used eight magazines and nearly 80 rounds of ammunition during the shooting. The government also states that on Feb. 23, 2015, a call was made to Emanuel AME Church from the house where Roof was residing at the time. Other examples provided by the government include Roof’s alleged use of the internet to study potential targets, wire transmissions made by Roof to pay for a website hosted by a Russian company, and the influx of donations received by Emanuel AME Church from all over the world following the shooting. Attorneys also cited South Carolina’s lack of a hate crime law covering racially motivated violence as ample reason for the federal government to intervene.

“In addition to the use of firearms and ammunition that traveled in interstate commerce, defendant used several channels and instrumentalities while planning these attacks. Defendant used the internet both to post his manifesto shortly before committing his attacks and to research various subjects, including Emanuel AME and other historically black churches and potential targets in Charleston,” states the prosecution in court documents filed earlier this week. “Defendant also used a telephone to call Emanuel AME. Defendant, guided by GPS, drove on an interstate highway from Columbia to carry out his attack, and then fled afterward on an interstate highway to North Carolina. The internet, telephone, GPS, and interstate highways — defendant used each of these channels and instrumentalities in planning and executing his attack, and each falls squarely within Congress’s Commerce Clause authority.”


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