Defense wants Charleston church survivor’s testimony struck

Public Defenders Bill McGuire, left, and Ashley Pennington speak with 9th Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015 during a hearing on a gag order in Dylann Roof's prosecution at the Charleston County Courthouse in Charleston, S.C. Nicholson said he wanted to sit down with attorneys for the victims and the news media to review some of the more graphic evidence — including photographs of the crime scene, before deciding specifically what will be released. (Grace Beahm/The Post And Courier via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – Attorneys for the man charged with killing nine people during a Bible study in a Charleston church are again arguing prosecutors’ first witness tainted the case against their client.

The defense team for Dylann Roof argues in court papers filed Monday comments made by one of the survivors of the Emanuel AME Church shooting could influence other witnesses who were in the courtroom at the time.

Felicia Sanders testified last week Roof belonged in “the pit of hell.” Defense attorneys requested a mistrial, saying her testimony was suggestive he should get the death penalty.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel denied that motion and allowed Sanders’ testimony to remain in the record. In their new filing, Roof’s defense team asks the judge to reconsider that decision and also to instruct further witnesses to leave their opinions on potential sentences out of their testimony.

Roof faces 33 federal charges including hate crimes. He faces a possible death sentence.

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