A US jury on Tuesday condemned white supremacist Dylann Roof to death for the hate-fueled killings of nine Black parishioners at a bible study meeting in a Charleston, South Carolina, church in 2015.
Roof was found guilty on December 15 of opening fire on attendees of a Bible study session at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church due to their race. The jury deliberated for about three hours before reaching a unanimous verdict Tuesday in the sentencing phase of Roof's federal hate-crimes trial.
Prosecutors presented their sentencing case in about 3½ days and questioned 25 witnesses, a lot of them family members of victims who suffered multiple gunshots in a rampage that came after Roof sat with the parishioners in their Bible study for about 40 minutes. But there are many like Melvin Graham who said forgiveness is still a work in progress and he will forever grieve the death of his sister Cynthia Hurd.
He said Roof targeted the church and the Bible study because it would have the most impact in making a racist statement.
The tragic shooting occurred at a Bible study even in Charleston, South Carolina.
He never once asked for mercy or showed any remorse for his crimes, telling the jurors: "You may remember in my confession I said I had to do it".
Roof's defense said in a statement that the "sentencing decision means that this case will not be over for a very long time".
In a statement shared today, Roof's family said that they will "struggle as long as we live to understand why he committed this frightful attack, which caused so much pain to so many good people". Roof entered Mother Emanuel with hate in his heart and a Glock, Richardson told the jury.
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US District Judge Richard Gergel replied that he was "strongly disinclined" and instructed Roof to think about it overnight. During the trial Roof sidelined his lawyers, offered no evidence or witnesses, and spoke to the jury directly, insisting that he wasn't mentally ill or incapable of understanding the criminal acts in any way.
The jury convicted him last month of all 33 federal charges he faced, including hate crimes. No one made me.
Friends and relatives of victims slain in the shooting gave emotional testimony in court before Tuesday, some of them sobbing on the stand.
"I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed", his writings continued.
In notes confiscated from Roof in prison in August 2015, he wrote that he was "not sorry".
Jurors will get the case after closing arguments Tuesday morning from prosecutors and perhaps Roof, who has represented himself during sentencing but has put up no fight for his life.