Dylann Storm Roof, the White man accused of killing nine members of an historic Black church in Charleston, S.C., last year, was attacked Aug. 4 by a Black inmate in the Charleston County Detention Center, where the two were housed in the protective custody unit, authorities said.

Dylan Roof -Dwayne Stafford

Charleston County jail, inmate Dwayne Stafford (right) attacked Dylann Roof, 22 (left) as he went into the shower around 7:45 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016, bruising Roof’s face and back, according to a police report. Roof has been housed at the Charleston County Detention Center since being brought back from North Carolina a day after the June 17, 2015, slayings of nine parishioners during a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church. (Charleston County jail via AP)

Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon Jr. said Roof was on his way to the shower when fellow inmate 25-year-old Dwayne Stafford accosted him and beat the younger man with his fists. The self-proclaimed White supremacist was vulnerable because the guard on duty stepped away to get toilet paper for another prisoner.

A weapon was not involved in the attack and Roof sustained only minor bruising on his face and back, Cannon said. Roof is not pressing charges.

The federal trial for the 22-year-old has been set for the first week of November.

The high school dropout, who told authorities he intended to start a race war, faces 33 federal charges, including a hate crime offense. In May, United States Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced the Justice Department would be seeking the death penalty in his case.

“The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision,” Lynch said at the time.

Roof has also been indicted on 12 state charges, including nine counts of murder, one count of possessing a weapon during the commission of a violent crime and three attempted murder charges. The state trial is slated for January 2017 and State Solicitor Scarlett A. Wilson said in July that South Carolina will also be seeking the death penalty.

Roof’s defense attorneys have filed a legal challenge to the U.S. death penalty, hoping prosecutors would decide not to pursue it in their client’s case, CNN reported.

“The facts of this case are indisputably grave,” Roof’s defense team stated in its motion, as cited by CNN. “But if, as we contend here, the FDPA is unconstitutional, no one can be lawfully sentenced to death or executed under it, no matter what his crimes.”

The lawyers added that if federal prosecutors removed the death penalty, “Mr. Roof will withdraw this motion and plead guilty as charged to all counts in the indictment.”

On June 17, 2005, Roof attended a Bible study class at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, known as Mother Emanuel. And, after participating for a while, he shot and killed nine members, including the church’s pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, and injured several others, according to prosecutors. Roof was arrested in North Carolina the day after the massacre.

 

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO