The case against Dylann Roof, the self-described White Supremacist-murderer of nine innocent African-Americans during a Charleston, S.C. Bible Study last year, seems like a pretty open and shut case. We know exactly who did it, and the reasons were pretty obvious. However, Roof's lawyers are doing their jobs and trying to lessen the capital murder charges against their defendant. Citing the 13th Amendment, they are attempting to have the federal charges against Roof dismissed based on the same Amendment freeing the slaves, and are also arguing that trying the case twice, constitutes a violation of the double jeopardy clause of the 5th Amendment. The defense team added a third, out-of-state lawyer with Appeals Court experience.
The (third) lawyer added that Congress wrongly used the 13th Amendment when it created the hate crimes law. “Despite its laudable goals, (the law) cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny, because it affords the federal government virtually unchecked discretion to prosecute crimes already being punished by the states,” the filing stated.
State prosecutors also are seeking the death penalty in a separate murder case, but the federal trial is scheduled to happen first — at the defense team’s request.
Roof's attorneys are trying to get the case to be dropped in exchange for a lifetime prison sentence. But the problem isn't the federal case for Roof and his attorneys, it's the state of South Carolina's desire to try the case first. The prosecutor, coincidentally, is the same person in charge of the case against Michael Slager who shot Walter Scott in the back in that famous video that discredited the law enforcement officer's account of events.
This prosecutor, named Scarlett Wilson, isn't terribly popular in the South Carolina Black community. Regarding Wilson, Controversial seems like an understatement.
“Her reputation has always been to back the police department,” James Johnson, president of the local branch of the National Action Network, told BuzzFeed. “The history led us to believe not to trust her.”
“She’s not in good standing with the black community,” Pastor Thomas Dixon, the leader of a local group, the Coalition: People United To Take Back Our Community, told BuzzFeed News. “She goes in on black folks and Hispanic folks,” he said. “It’s like one rule book was made for them, but when it comes to the white population there’s a whole different set of rules.”
Wilson prefers that South Carolina deal with Roof so she can, undoubtedly earn a victory for the death penalty charge, as the federal government hasn't executed anyone in 13 years, unlike S.C. Now it makes sense. If Roof's attorneys can negotiate a deal where the death penalty is off the table, the state doesn't have a chance to retry the case and allow Roof to face execution. That's understandable and responsible for his lawyers to make this valid point, no matter how abhorrent the suspect's crimes absolutely were.
Of course, we have to wonder what consequences will the (White) shooter of Alton Sterling face? Or how about Walter Scott's (White) shooter, Officer Michael Slager? If the person doing the shooting is White, it seems there are a different set of rules.
Even the racist, Dylann Roof was allowed to grab some food en route to the police station. Yet, where's the appropriate amount of outrage when we consider how Freddie Gray made his way to the station while in police custody? Blacks and Whites are hardly equal in the eyes of the law.
Still, there are so many who believe Black Lives Matter is a frivolous movement. Goodness gracious. Enough already. When will justice be color blind? Or will it ever cease to be the way it still is after all these years?