FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – Attorneys for the man accused of shooting and killing two employees during a Conway bank robbery in August said the government is moving too fast with the case and are asking for more time.
In court documents filed Monday in the U.S. District Court in Florence, attorneys for Brandon Council asked that a scheduling order not be made at this time.
"Mr. Council's defense team does not intend to oppose scheduling orders solely for the purpose of delay," the documents state. "It simply is too early in this case to make any scheduling order."
Council faces two counts of murder in connection with the Aug. 21 CresCom Bank robbery. He is accused of killing Donna Major, 59, of Conway, and Kathryn "Katie" Skeen, 36, of Green Sea.
The government has not yet stated its intention to seek the death penalty, although the case does offer that possibility. Defense counsel, in its Monday response, stated the government "appears to be rushing this matter through the authorization process at an almost unprecedented speed."
"In so doing, the Government has not allowed the defendant sufficient time to investigate and present reasons why (the) Attorney General of the United States should not authorize the death penalty, but should instead direct the United States Attorney to accept the defendant's already-submitted offer to plead guilty as charged to all charges in the indictment in exchange for multiple sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of release," according to court documents.
The defense team's response noted that the government proposed an April 30, 2018 deadline for its decision as to whether or not to seek the death penalty, basing that timeline on the case of Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof.
However, they noted the proposed deadline in Council's case is quicker than the decision made in Roof's.
"In Roof, the defendant was arrested on June 18, 2015, and, according to the Government's proposal, the Notice of Intent to seek the death penalty was filed on May 24, 2016, more than 11 months later," the court documents state. "Here, the Government seeks to shorten the process to eight months."
The attorneys added that the Roof case was unusual in its speed, noting that, from 2004 until Aug. 12, 2014, the average time between an indictment and the government announcing its intent to seek the death penalty in all federal capital cases throughout the country was 16.1 months.
Defense counsel also referenced the government's proposed full trial scheduling order, "apparently on the assumption that the Attorney General will, in fact, authorize the death penalty."
"The Government's proposal is unusual if not unprecedented and is, to put it mildly, premature," the response states.
A court schedule filed in October stated jury selection in Council's case would have begun on Thursday, Oct. 26. A U.S. District Court judge granted an order to delay the trial.
Read the defense attorneys' full response below: