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Sep 23, 3:10 PM EDT

Defense: Roof won't ask jury for mercy in church trial


CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- Defense attorneys don't intend to have Dylann Roof ask the jury for mercy during the penalty phase of his federal trial in the Charleston church shootings.

Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel earlier this month to prohibit Roof from asking for mercy.

In an order Friday, the judge denied the request as moot saying the defense has filed documents saying their client does not intend to do so. Those defense documents have been sealed.

The 22-year-old Roof is charged with hate crimes and other counts in the June 2015 slayings of nine African-Americans at Emanuel AME Church.

If Roof is found guilty, there will be a second phase of the trial to determine whether he receives life in prison or death. Initial jury screening begins Monday.

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