Charleston suspect up against South Carolina’s record on death penalty
By Laila Kearney
June 21, 2015
Despite the state’s record, the Charleston case stands out in at least one respect that could work against a decision to seek the death penalty against Roof.
In a gesture that reflected deep religious conviction, the families voiced tearful forgiveness for the suspect during his first court appearance on Friday.
While none of them have said publicly whether they want the prosecutor to seek death, their merciful stances suggest that they may well oppose execution, experts in capital punishment say. Those wishes could prove difficult for Wilson to ignore.
“All prosecutors say that they are very influenced by the family,” said Eric M. Freedman, a professor of constitutional rights at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University. “It’s a factor, but it’s not the biggest factor.”