A judge has delayed the trial of Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old accused of killing nine Black members of Charleston’s Mother Emanuel AME Church in a race-inspired shooting earlier this year.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel agreed to push back the trial to no later than January to give both defense attorneys and federal prosecutors respective time to prepare, NBC News reports. Roof is facing a number of charges, including hate crimes, for admitting in an online manifesto that he opened fire at the historic Black church on June 17 to start a “race war.”

Roof was arraigned on 33 charges in July. His attorneys told the judge Roof wanted to plead guilty, but was unaware of the possible death penalty he would face. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said the U.S. Justice Department is still reviewing the matter.

NBC News reports: 

“It is an absolute priority for the department and is not something on the back burner by any stretch of the imagination,” he told the judge. He said that U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch will ultimately decide if the government will pursue a death sentence.

Gergel urged the prosecutor to let officials at the Justice Department know that it’s important to get a decision. He said he realized such a review can take some time but “I want it to be done as soon as possible.”

Roof did not make an appearance in court.

Last month, Roof’s friend, Joseph “Joey” Meek Jr., was arrested after the FBI said he was withholding information about the suspect’s plans a week before the shooting took place.

SOURCE: NBC News | VIDEO CREDIT: Inform 

SEE ALSO: 

FBI Arrests Dylann Roof’s Friend For Allegedly Having Prior Knowledge Of Charleston Shooting

Is Focusing On Forgiveness In The Wake Of AME Shooting Deflecting Our Attention From The Overlying Issue Of Racism?

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