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Dylann Roof enters a Charleston County courtroom for an April 10, 2017, plea hearing when he was sentenced to life on state charges. File/Grace Beahm/Staff

Dylann Roof on Tuesday appealed his conviction and death sentence in his hate-motivated slayings of nine black church worshippers in Charleston.

Roof's attorneys sent the formal notice to the Virginia-based 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. The filing, which contained no arguments, was the last expected move by the group of lawyers who tried to defend Roof at trial, only to be thwarted by his wishes to defend himself.

Federal public defenders from Maryland and California are set to take over the case during the appeal.

Roof, 23, was found guilty of 33 federal charges, including hate crimes and religious rights violations, in the June 17, 2015, attack at Emanuel AME Church. In January, a jury decided that he should be executed for the mass shooting.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel rejected Roof's other requests for a new trial or an acquittal, prompting the formal appeal this week.

Roof now sits on federal death row in Indiana.

Appeals in capital cases tend to stretch on for years and often indefinitely postpone executions.

In the event that Roof's bid to upend his conviction is successful, authorities devised a backstop: In April, he agreed to plead guilty to state murder charges in exchange for a life sentence.

Regardless of the appeal's outcome, his death sentence is unlikely to be carried out soon. It has been 14 years since the last federal prisoner was put to death as the government reviews its execution procedures.

Reach Andrew Knapp at 843-937-5414 or

Andrew Knapp is editor of the Quick Response Team, which covers crime, courts and breaking news. He previously worked as a reporter and copy editor at Florida Today, Newsday and Bangor (Maine) Daily News. He enjoys golf, weather and fatherhood.