Dylann Roof's defense attorney refutes reports of possible second attack

Attorneys in Dylann Roof's federal trial are now back in control of his defense for the guilt phase. (Sam Tyson/WCIV)

Defense attorneys for Dylann Roof say the evidence released in the federal trial is being misinterpreted and Roof never planned to attack a second church on June 17, 2015.

David Bruck calls the reports wrong and needing correction.

Evidence released this week shows Roof left Emanuel AME Church after killing nine people and headed west on Interstate 26 until he exited at Jedburg. The previously sealed filings pointed out Roof's GPS unit was turned off outside Branch AME Church for a few minutes.

But Bruck says the GPS data shows Roof did not stop at the church and sped by at "30 or 40 miles per hours."

"The evidence actually suggests that Roof simply turned off I-26 at the first deserted-looking exit, adjusted his GPS to stay on secondary roads rather than the interstate (which is why his GPS device was briefly turned off), and kept on going," Bruck wrote in a statement released Thursday night.

He goes on to say that there's no evidence Roof knew he was near the church that night. But the FBI data says Roof had been by Branch AME at least once before in February when they say he was planning his attack.

"Now that the prosecution’s discarded theory has been made public, the government should reassure the public and the people of Branch AME Church that Roof posed no particularized threat to that congregation," Bruck writes.

"We also hope that the news media will take a closer look at the evidence and set the record straight. Roof’s actual crimes were serious enough. There is no reason to frighten the public by imagining new ones."

Roof was convicted in January of 33 federal hate crimes and crimes against religion and was sentenced to death.

Bruck and his fellow defense attorneys have filed a motion for a new trial, arguing the charges that carried death as a maximum penalty did not apply in Roof's case. It's an argument that was made in pre-trial motions and denied by District Judge Richard Gergel.

Roof remains in the Al Cannon Detention Center waiting to hear whether his state murder trial, which has been indefinitely postponed, will be rescheduled.

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