Attorney says there is no evidence that Dylann Roof targeted second church

‘Roof’s actual crimes were serious enough’

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Dylann Roof and defense attorney David Bruck seemed at odds during the trial as Roof continued to sideline his defense team's efforts to argue mental incompetence - ROBERT MANISCALCO
  • Robert Maniscalco
  • Dylann Roof and defense attorney David Bruck seemed at odds during the trial as Roof continued to sideline his defense team's efforts to argue mental incompetence
Defense counsel for Dylann Roof have responded to reports that the Emanuel AME Church shooter traveled to a second church immediately following his attack in Charleston.

A recently unsealed motion from federal prosecutors states that evidence collected from Roof’s GPS indicates that he traveled near Branch AME Church in Summerville, another predominantly African-American church, immediately after leaving Mother Emanuel.

Last September, prosecutors wrote, “The similarities between the two churches — both are AME churches, both have predominantly African-American congregations, and both had scheduled Bible study classes on the night of the attack — coupled with the fact that defendant, who was still armed, drove over 20 miles directly to Branch AME Church immediately after attacking parishioners at Emanuel AME Church, supports the inference that defendant intended to continue his racially motivated violence at Branch AME Church that night and, more specifically, that his intended targets were African-American congregants at the church.”

Attorney David Bruck, who represented Roof during his federal death penalty trial, argues that a closer look at the GPS evidence cited by prosecutors shows that Roof did not stop at Branch AME Church, instead driving past the church at 30 or 40 miles per hour. The government stated in their motion that Roof’s GPS was briefly deactivated as he neared Branch AME.

“The fact that an AME church happened to be nearby as this was occurring does not prove or imply that Roof planned a second attack. Indeed, there is no evidence that he even saw the Branch AME Church, or knew it existed,” Bruck said in a recently released statement. “Presumably this is why the prosecution formally withdrew its previously stated intention to present any evidence about the Branch AME Church, and never mentioned it at trial. Now that the prosecution’s discarded theory has been made public, the government should reassure the public and the people of Branch AME Church that Roof posed no particularized threat to that congregation.”

Bruck added, “We also hope that the news media will take a closer look at the evidence and set the record straight. Roof’s actual crimes were serious enough. There is no reason to frighten the public by imagining new ones.”

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