An attorney defending the man accused of fatally shooting nine black churchgoers says a South Carolina prosecutor's desire to go to trial before federal authorities is "reckless and shortsighted."

Public defender Ashley Pennington says that if Solicitor Scarlett Wilson wants justice, she should accept Dylann Roof's offer to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence.

The arguments mirror statements in the 22-year-old's federal hate crimes case, where his defenders have tried to persuade prosecutors to drop the death penalty and accept a guilty plea.

Roof faces capital punishment in both state and federal courts in the June 2015 shooting deaths of the parishioners at Emanuel AME Church.