At a hearing this morning, a judge announced that the trial for alleged Charleston shooter Dylann Roof has been tentatively set for July 11, 2016. Ninth Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson also extended a gag order that prevents law enforcement agencies from releasing information—including 911 calls, photos, and police reports—about the June 17th massacre at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church until at least next Wednesday.
Nicholson cited Roof’s right to a fair trial and an unbiased jury when extending the gag order. Charleston’s Post and Courier and the Associated Press have filed motions against the order, which prevents police from responding to FOIA requests. From the Post and Courier:
As the case heads toward trial, Nicholson’s order halted police agencies from honoring requests for the records that news media made under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act.
But attorneys for The Post and Courier filed a motion to intervene, challenging Nicholson’s order as broad and misdirected. Columbia attorney Jay Bender, who represents the newspaper and the S.C. Press Association, cited past rulings, arguing that the proper way for the court to ensure a fair trial was through voir dire, the process through which jurors are selected.
Roof has been charged with nine counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, and one one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death.