Dylann Roof's Lawyers File Challenge to Death Penalty, Say It's Unconstitutional

Roof faces charges for 33 federal offenses.

— -- Defense attorneys of accused killer Dylan Roof filed a legal challenge to the capital punishment being sought by federal prosecutors in his murder trial on Monday night, arguing the punishment is unconstitutional.

The defense in this capital punishment case cited "the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society," in their motion, and said that if, as they argue, the death penalty is unconstitutional, "no one can be lawfully sentenced to death or executed under it, no matter what his crimes."

Roof's defense was careful to note that their challenge stemmed from the prosecution's refusal to accept their client's guilty pleas, despite his willingness to accept multiple life sentences without the possibility for parole. The motion states that if the prosecution drops the death penalty, Roof's attorneys would "withdraw this motion and plead guilty as charged to all counts in the indictment."

"To carry out these twin goals of fanning racial flames and exacting revenge, Roof further decided to seek out and murder African Americans because of their race," Lynch said. "An essential element of his plan, however, was to find his victims inside of a church, specifically an African-American church, to ensure the greatest notoriety and attention to his actions."