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Prosecutors want to use timeline exhibit in guilt phase of Dylann Roof’s federal trial

Roof sketch 3.jpg

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — A day after U.S. attorneys asked a federal court judge to bar Dylann Roof from pleading for mercy from the jury, they asked to be allowed to use summary charts of the case to make their point during the guilt phase of the trial.

One the likely exhibits will be a timeline of the case presented by the agent responsible with investigating the June 2015 shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

“The timeline will assist the jury in understanding and analyzing the overall case through the relationship among the voluminous items and events placed in evidence,” said U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams in the three-page motion.

Williams says the use of summary charts will help the jury see all the evidence that has been presented in the trial, which is expected to run for two months and be broken up by a number of federal holidays.

He notes the charts do not have to include the defense’s version of the story or explanation of evidence, however.

Williams writes he and fellow attorney on the case Jay Richardson have not completed the exhibit, but said it would be included in the government’s exhibit list that has to be delivered to the court on Oct. 10.

The defense team has not responded yet to the three motions made by the government in the past two days. Nor has it filed any of its own public pre-trial motions this week.

Death penalty attorney Sarah Gannett, who was added to the list of defense team members earlier this year, did file a motion on Wednesday asking for a two-day extension to finish preparing a rebuttal to the government’s response to the motion to strike the death penalty.

Gannett said “other pressing matters” necessitate the extension.

The defense team argues the death penalty is a violation of Roof’s Constitutional rights, saying the arbitrary nature of juries makes it impossible for sentences for the same crimes to be carried out similarly across the country.

Roof faces the death penalty if he’s convicted of the nearly three dozen hate and gun crimes he’s been charged with in connection to the church shooting. His attorneys have offered repeatedly to have him plead guilty if the government will walk back the death sentence as a possible punishment.

Roof also faces the death penalty in state court, which is slated to begin at the end of January.

Also on Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel, who is presiding over the Roof trial, set out the rules of decorum for the trial, including details on how many members of the general public will be able to watch the trial. Gergel set aside three adjoining courtrooms in the federal courthouse. One will serve as the trial courtroom and will have room for as many as 40 members of the general public. A second courtroom will broadcast the trial on closed circuit television to another 80 members of the public.

The third courtroom will be for members of the media reporting on the case.

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