Dylann Roof's appellate attorneys have a history of defending high-profile shooters, including the lead perpetrator in the Washington, D.C-area sniper attacks in 2002.
James Wyda, chief federal public defender in Maryland, was assigned recently to handle Roof's appeal, along with Hilary Potashner, who directs public defense in Los Angeles-area federal courts.
Roof, 22, was sentenced to death earlier this year in the June 17, 2015, race-motivated shootings of nine black worshippers at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church.
The Eastover resident represented himself through the most crucial stage of his trial, the penalty phase, when jurors considered evidence in deciding whether he should be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison. The jury ultimately convicted Roof on 33 federal charges and opted for the death verdict.
Roof's former attorneys filed his appeal in May, though no grounds for the measure were laid out at the time. It will be up to Wyda and Potashner to come up with those arguments to spare Roof.
In his top defender role since 1998, Wyda appeared in federal proceedings for John Allen Muhammad, one of two men charged in the string of sniper shootings in Washington’s Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Muhammad was eventually convicted in Virginia state court and executed in 2009.
He also is representing Harold Martin III, a former National Security Agency contractor accused of stealing classified information.
Potashner was appointed to her leadership post in 2014. Her clients have included former baseball player Lenny Dykstra, who served prison time for property crimes, and Paul Ciancia, who fatally shot a Transportation Security Administration agent and wounded others in 2013 at Los Angeles International Airport.
Those assigned to fight the appeal include Jay Richardson, the local federal prosecutor who tried the case, and Washington-based government appeals lawyers April Anderson, Bonnie Robin-Vergeer, Thomas Chandler and Vijay Shanker.