Dylann Roof jury: Death penalty for Charleston church shooter
Dylann Roof jury: Death penalty for Charleston church shooter:- Twelve federal jurors said Tuesday that Dylann Roof, the man who killed nine people in a 2015 massacre at a historically black Charleston, South Carolina, church, should be put to death.
The 10 women and two men recommended the death penalty for all 18 counts that carried that as a possible sentence.
Roof will become the first federal hate crime defendant to be sentenced to death, a Justice Department spokesman 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.
A group of defense attorneys and others who worked on Roof’s behalf issued a statement, saying the death penalty decision means the case will not be over for a “very long time.”
“We are sorry that, despite our best efforts, the legal proceedings have shed so little light on the reasons for this tragedy,” the statement said.
The jurors did not look at Roof when they came in with the verdict. Several looked in the direction of the victims’ families.
It was very quiet in the courtroom. There was no sound coming from the many family members.
Roof, who was facing away from the media, did not appear to show any reaction to the verdict.
Some of the people in the gallery were dabbing their eyes. Several relatives of those killed gently put their arms around each other.
“Today we had justice for my sister (Cynthia Hurd),” Melvin Graham told reporters. “This is a very hollow victory, because my sister is still gone. I wish that this verdict could have brought her back. But what it can do is just send a message to those who feel the way he feels that this community will not tolerate it.”
Graham said he just wants mass killings to stop.
“Every time I hear about a shooting I want to cry,” he said. “We have to stand together.”
Roof’s family said they will always love him.
“We will struggle as long as we live to understand why he committed this horrible attack, which caused so much pain to so many good people,” they added. “We wish to express the grief we feel for the victims of his crimes, and our sympathy to the many families he has hurt.”
The judge, who is bound by the jury’s decision, complimented the jurors and said they did a magnificent job.
Prosecutors called the decision a result of hard work and said it was a “fair and just process.”
US Attorney Beth Drake said Roof failed at his attempt to split people by race.
“Contrary to Roof’s desire to sow the seeds of hate, his acts did not tear this community apart,” she said. “Instead of agitating racial tensions as he had hoped, Roof’s deadly attack inside Mother Emanuel became an attack on all of us, and the community stood in solidarity.”
Roof: I had no choice
Before the jury deliberated his fate for three hours, Roof told the jury he still feels he had no choice but to kill nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015.
“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 as he made his own five-minute closing argument in the penalty phase of his federal trial. “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.”
“From what I’ve been told, I have a right to ask you to give me a life sentence, but I’m not sure what good that will do anyway,” Roof said. “But what I will say is only one of you has to disagree with the other jurors.”
His statement followed a prosecutor’s impassioned, two-hour argument in a Charleston courtroom urging jurors to give Roof the death penalty instead of their other option, life in prison without possibility of parole.
Jurors convicted Roof, an avowed white supremacist, last month of federal murder and hate crimes charges.
The prosecution and defense rested in the penalty phase on Monday, bringing to a close days of heartbreaking testimony from family and friends of victims who were killed.
Prosecutors argued that he’s a calculating killer who deserves the death penalty because of his motive, his lack of remorse and the shooting’s impact on the victims’ families.