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Dylann Roof appearing in court in July 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo: Grace Beahm-Pool/Getty Images

Dylann Roof, who was found guilty of murder for killing nine members of a Black church congregation in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, petitioned a full federal appeals court Wednesday to review his previously upheld death sentence.

The big picture: Roof's move comes after a three-judge panel rejected his first appeal in August. Asking the court to rehear his case is one of the few options he has to avoid the death sentence, along with petitioning the Supreme Court or seeking a presidential pardon.

Catch up quick: Roof pled guilty in 2017 and was sentenced to nine consecutive life sentences, one for each individual he killed.

  • He later became the first person in the U.S. to be sentenced to death on federal hate crime charges.

What they're saying: Roof's legal team argued that prosecutors went against past Supreme Court rulings by arguing he deserved the death penalty "based on victim worth."

  • "The Panel’s decision conflicts with this precedent, opening the door to death sentences based on victims’ goodness and worth," Roof's lawyers wrote in the court filing.
"Especially troubling, it sanctions reliance on victims’ religiosity as evidence of that heightened worth."

What's next: If the court grants Roof's appeal, the case will be reheard before the entire court.

  • It would be the last resort appeal before going to the Supreme Court.

Go deeper

Appeals court denies Trump bid to shield records from Jan. 6 panel

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

A D.C. appeals court on Thursday denied former President Trump's bid to shield a slew of records to the congressional panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, rejecting Trump's claim that the documents are shielded by executive privilege.

The big picture: In a 3-0 decision, Judge Patricia Ann Millett wrote that lawyers for Trump had not "provided no basis for this court to override President Biden's judgment" that the documents, held by the National Archives, should not be protected by executive privilege.

Updated Dec 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court allows lawsuits against Texas anti-abortion law to proceed

Abortion and anti-abortion rights demonstrators rally outside the Supreme Court. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday said some lawsuits against Texas' anti-abortion law — the strictest in the country — can proceed.

The big picture: The court's decision is not a ruling on the merits of Texas' law — and leaves the law in place — but it paves the way for the courts to decide whether that law is constitutional.

Dec 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Jussie Smollett found guilty of staging attack, will appeal verdict

Former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett arrives at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building to hear the verdict in his trial on in Chicago, Illinois, on Thursday. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Actor Jussie Smollett was found guilty on Thursday of making a false report to Chicago police that he was the victim of a hate crime in January 2019, per the Washington Post.

The big picture: The 39-year-old former "Empire" star, who is Black and gay, reported to police that he was the victim of a hate crime when two men violently attacked him. Prosecutors accused him of orchestrating a hoax attack on himself. An attorney for Smollett said after the verdict he's "100% innocent" and would file an appeal, per AP.