Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old accused of killing nine people in a Charleston church, has been indicted on federal hate crime charges. In a press conference on Wednesday (July 22), Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the grand jury came back with 33 counts, some of which carry the death penalty.
After the June 17 shooting at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, authorities found Roof’s manifestos, detailing his racist beliefs against groups including African Americans, Jews and Hispanics. The charges against Roof range from murder to attempted murder and illegal weapons possession, and the Justice Department has said the crimes were found to be "racially motivated."
The FBI defines a hate crime as “a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, Congress has defined a hate crime as a ‘criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.’ ”
Lynch further explained that these crimes come with a possible death penalty sentence, but that it hasn't yet been decided whether or not federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty. The trial is slated to begin in June of next year.