Judge hears defense arguments on motion to delay jury selection in Brandon Council case

Judge hears defense arguments on motion to delay jury selection in Brandon Council case

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - On Thursday, a closed hearing was held so a federal judge could hear arguments from the defense for its motion to delay jury selection in the trial of alleged CresCom Bank shooter Brandon Council.

WMBF News sent a crew to the federal courthouse in Florence for the hearing but was not allowed inside.

Council faces two charges of murder for the deaths of Donna Major and Katie Skeen, who were killed during the robbery of the CresCom Bank in August 2017. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

In a motion filed September 20, the defense asked the judge to delay jury selection and the trial claiming Council’s attorneys need more time to prepare. According to those documents, the trial was originally set to begin January 14.

In its response filed September 25, the prosecution said it believed a 90 day continuance will give counsel enough time to prepare. However, it claimed the defense is making the same arguments it made when the initial trial date was set. According to government’s response, the prosecution asked for a November trial date and the defense asked for a date in April 2018.

On July 17, the U.S. District Court of South Carolina filed documents detailing the jury selection process for the trail, including a jury summons and questionnaire being sent to 2,000 randomly chosen people from a district-wide pool October 1.

A judge ruled September 25 those jury summons would not be sent out, pending the ruling on the motion to delay the trial.

In another developing aspect of this case, Brandon Council’s attorneys said he will plead guilty if prosecutors drop the death penalty. That came in documents filed September 18. Prosecutors responded October 10 saying the defense fails to give a compelling legal or factual reason to dismiss the death penalty, citing precedent in the case against convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof.

The prosecution also defended its intention to call for victim impact statements saying the testimony will give the jury a view of unique characteristics of the victims because they were murdered in a small bank branch in a tight-knit community.

A judge has yet to make an order on the motion to strike the death penalty.

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