A jury of 10 women and two men deliberated for three hours before unanimously offering a death sentence to Dylann Roof, the man who killed nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. Roof was convicted in December of federal murder and hate crimes charges.
Roof was found guilty of all 33 counts related to the attack, which killed Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Rev. Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lee Lance, Cynthia Hurd, Daniel L. Simmons, Susie Jackson, DePayne Middleton Doctor as they met together the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The 22-year-old represented himself in court and “insisted on denying any psychological incapacity, called no witnesses, presented no evidence in his defense and mostly sidelined his court-appointed lawyers,” according to the New York Times.
Roof’s actions in court are unsurprising and follow both a confession and a jailhouse manifesto that highlighted his white supremacist beliefs. Roof told the jury that he still feels that he had no choice but to kill, which he designed as the beginnings of a race war.
"In my confession to the FBI I told them that I had to do it, and obviously that's not really true. ... I didn't have to do anything," Roof said during his five minute closing statement." But what I meant when I said that was, I felt like I had to do it, and I still do feel like I had to do it."
Roof also suggested that his life might be spared and told Judge Richard Gergel that he wanted to file a motion for new lawyers; Gergel said he is unlikely to let that happen. Roof’s statement followed two hours of argument from Assistant US Attorney Jay Richardson, who urged jurors to assign Roof the death penalty instead of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Richardson noted that Roof visited the church multiple times before the massacre, sat with the group before shooting, repeatedly shot victims and “showed not one ounce of remorse."
"Those are the words of an extraordinary racist who believed it was justified," Richardson said.
Judge Richard Gergel will formally sentence Roof on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. ET. Roof, who represented himself during the penalty phase, told Gergel he wanted to file a motion for new lawyers. Gergel said Roof can argue that on Wednesday but he is not inclined to let that happen.
Gergel will formally sentence Roof on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. ET.