First Time in Modern Times That Both State & Federal Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty

Authorities will have two chances to see that Dylann Roof meets the same fate as his victims.

But never in modern times have both state and federal prosecutors sought someone’s execution at the same time. How they will manage two death penalty cases could break legal ground and offer some lessons.

“We are in completely uncharted waters,” said Chris Adams of Charleston, an experienced capital defender. “The federal government’s decision (to seek the death penalty) creates many more questions than it does answers.”

Jack Sullivan Jr., executive director of the national anti-death penalty group Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, has met with some families, he said. Their opinions vary. “What Roof is accused of doing sparked global outrage, and our society tends to operate on the understanding that vengeance is legitimate and required,” Sullivan said. “At the same time, our experiences and beliefs inform us that murder is wrong no matter who commits it.”

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