South Carolina wants to prosecute the case of a man charged with the killings of nine black parishioners at Charleston church before the federal government tries the defendant.
Local prosecutor Scarlett Wilson, in a letter late last week to the judge presiding over the federal case, said she prefers that the state bring its death penalty case against Dylann Roof first.
Roof is scheduled for trial next July in state court on nine counts of murder and other charges relating to the June 17 massacre.
Roof also faces dozens of federal charges. The federal government has not said whether it will seek the death penalty.
Ms Wilson was responding to a question raised by the federal judge at a hearing earlier this month as to which case would be tried first.