After allegedly taking nine lives in a South Carolina church, Dylann Roof is trying to get the government to spare his. Lawyers for the 22-year-old filed a motion on Monday to challenge the federal prosecutor’s intention to seek out the death penalty during his murder trial.
"This Court should rule that the federal death penalty constitutes a legally prohibited, arbitrary, cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by both the Fifth and Eighth Amendments," the filing said, according to BuzzFeed.
It continued: "The [Federal Death Penalty Act] may have been designed with as much care as possible under the circumstances, the capital sentencing process that the statute provides is constitutionally inadequate in practice. The results of jurors' good-faith grappling with the law–arbitrary, biased, and erroneous death verdicts–are intolerable as a matter of due process and proportional punishment."
He faces nine counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder after allegedly opening fire in a church filled with mostly African American parishioners. He was reportedly inspired by the Trayvon Martin shooting and had been seeing sporting white supremacy and Neo-Nazi symbols on his website.
Prosecutors plan to go after him with the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which Roof’s team has also challenged because of the death penalty. "Despite Congress’s deliberate decision not to provide for the death penalty in HCPA prosecutions, the government has effectively amended the statute to permit a death sentence to be imposed," they argued.
In addition to that, he’s also challenging the jury selection process, which requires gathering a group of people willing to say yes to the death penalty. This comes after prosecutors rejected his offer to plead guilty and take on multiple life sentences without the possibility of parole.