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Dylann Roof pleads not guilty to federal charges for Charleston shooting

By Danielle Haynes
Dylann Roof pleads not guilty to federal charges for Charleston shooting
Dylann Roof, 21, a suspect in a shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina is shown in a booking photo from the Lexington County South Carolina Sheriff's Office April 26, 2015 after a previous arrest. Lexington County Sheriff's Department/UPI | License Photo

CHARLESTON, S.C., July 31 (UPI) -- Dylann Roof pleaded not guilty Friday to 33 federal charges stemming from the deadly shooting of nine people at a Charleston church, though his lawyers said he wanted to plead guilty.

Though he wanted to plead guilty to the charges -- which include hate crimes counts -- his lawyers said they couldn't advise him to do so until they knew whether prosecutors intended to seek the death penalty, The (Charleston) Post and Courier reported. Because of this, the magistrate entered not guilty pleas for Roof.

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Roof, 21, is accused of opening fire at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, killing nine people and injuring one. He faces federal hate crime charges because investigators determined the shooting to be racially motivated.

If he's found guilty of the federal charges, he could face the death penalty, though investigators haven't determined whether to seek the punishment.

After Friday's hearing, the Rev Norvel Goff, interim pastor of Emanuel AME Church said "the process has started."

"This is a long journey, but we are committed to the task to make sure justice is done," he told reporters.

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