Death Penalty News

Last week, federal prosecutors said that they will seek the death penalty against Dylann Roof, the 22-year-old suspect in a racially motivated attack that killed nine black worshippers.

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The move is a relatively rare one for the federal government.  It’s especially unusual, experts said, because state prosecutors had already announced plans to seek Roof’s execution in their separate case against him.  So, if he’s convicted, Roof will face the ultimate penalty in two different courtrooms. In state court, he is set to be tried in January.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement that she arrived at her decision after a “rigorous” review of the case’s factual and legal issues.  “The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision,” she said.

Keep in mind, Roof has not yet been convicted.

In other death penalty news, the Supreme Court ruled decisively in favor of death-row inmate Timothy Tyrone Foster in Georgia on Monday, chastising state prosecutors for improperly keeping African-Americans off the jury that convicted him of killing a white woman.

The AP writes that the justices ruled 7-1 in favor of death row inmate Foster in underscoring the importance of rules they laid out in 1986 to prevent racial discrimination in the selection of juries.

According to CNN, Foster’s attorneys obtained notes the prosecution team took twenty years ago while it was engaged in picking (or packing?) a jury.  The notes including marking potential jurors who were black with a “b” written by their name.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court that Georgia “prosecutors were motivated in substantial part by race” when they struck African-Americans from the jury pool.