Charleston, SC (WLTX) - Jury selection for the federal death penalty case against Dylann Roof has been delayed because of a last minute defense hearing.
Roof is facing nine counts of murder for killing a group of parishioners at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in July of 2015.
Judge Richard Gergel told a packed courtroom including Roof that because of a motion he had received Monday morning, there would have to be a closed hearing at 11 a.m. between Roof and his counsel.
Gergel said the hearing would be closed to the government and the public because of attorney client privilege and to protect the defendant’s right to a fair and impartial jury and a fair trial.
Gergel said he knows it is short notice but said it had to be done under the circumstances.
Members of the media objected to the closed hearing in a 10 a.m. hearing. Despite the objections, the judge decided to move forward with a closed hearing because of the substantial probability that conducting it open would prejudice the defendant's right to a fair trial and he can't imagine a reasonable alternative.
Gergel said after the hearing, he will evaluate if a transcript of the hearing can be released without jeopardizing a fair trial.
Gergel filed an order with redacted information from Monday's closed hearing Monday evening. The order showed that the defense asked for an ex parte hearing which is a closed hearing. The order shows the hearing had to be closed to protect attorney-client privilege and to protect Roof's right to a fair trial. Details as to what was actually discussed have not been released.
Jury selection is expected Wednesday.
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