Jury selection in the federal trial of Dylann Roof was postponed Monday morning by the presiding judge.
Roof, 22, gunned down nine African American parishioners last year at the oldest black church in Charleston, S.C.
In a public statement, Judge Richard Gergel didn’t say when jury selection proceedings would resume.
“I have received a motion in this case this morning requiring my immediate attention and the conducting of a hearing involving only the Defendant and defense counsel,” the judge wrote, according to reports. “The hearing with be closed to the Government and the public.”
Roof has pleaded not guilty to 33 federal hate crimes counts; he is accused of entering the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston and sitting among worshipers at a Wednesday Bible study before opening fire.
Both the Justice Department and the state of South Carolina are seeking the death penalty.