Jury Condemns Dylann Roof to Death for South Carolina Church Massacre

Jurors deliberated for less than three hours.

Police lead Dylann Roof into the courthouse in Shelby, N.C., on June 18, 2015, shortly after his arrest. / REUTERS

(Reuters) — A 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.

The same jury last month found Roof, 22, guilty of 33 federal charges, including hate crimes resulting in death, for the shootings at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Jurors deliberated for less than three hours. Roof stared straight ahead as the judge read through the jury’s verdict findings before announcing his death sentence, local media reported on social media.

Roof, who represented himself during the penalty phase, was unrepentant during his short closing argument, telling jurors he still felt the massacre was something he had to do.

“Anyone who hates anything has good reason for it,” he said. “I have a right to ask you to give me a life sentence, but I’m not sure what good that will do anyone.”

“Today’s sentencing decision means that this case will not be over for a very long time,” Roof‘s lawyers, who represented him for the guilt phase, said in a statement after the verdict was announced.

“We are sorry that, despite our best efforts, the legal proceedings have shed so little light on the reasons for this tragedy.”

Prosecutors said he planned the shooting for months, intending to incite racial violence by targeting the oldest African-American congregation in the U.S. South.

“He decided the day, the hour and the moment that my sister was going to die, and now someone is going to do the same for him,” Melvin Graham, brother of shooting victim Cynthia Hurd, 54, said outside the federal courthouse in the heart of historic Charleston’s downtown district.

Roof will be formally sentenced on Wednesday. He also faces the death penalty if convicted of murder charges in a pending state trial.

Whether he was competent to serve as his own attorney will be a fundamental issue in the appeals process, Robert Dunham, executive director of the Washington-based nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center, said in a telephone interview.

Roof did not present any evidence during the penalty phase that began last week or allow jurors to hear details about his mental health. Dunham said defense lawyers likely will use the trial to show appellate judges that mental illness prevented him from adequately representing himself.


On June 17, 2015, Roof sat for 40 minutes with parishioners gathered for a Bible study meeting before opening fire as they closed their eyes to pray, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said in his final statement to jurors.

Roof pulled the trigger 75 times as he methodically killed Hurd; Clementa Pinckney, 41, the church’s pastor and a state senator; DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Sharonda Coleman Singleton, 45; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Myra Thompson, 59; Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; and Tywanza Sanders, 26.

Jurors heard four days of heartrending testimony from more than 20 of the victims’ loved ones, who described their legacies of faith and the devastation wrought by Roof’s brutality.

“What’s wrong here is the calculated racism, the choice to target a church, particularly the people in a church,” Richardson told jurors. “What’s wrong here is precisely why this is a case that justifies the death penalty.”

Roof still faces a trial on murder charges in state court, where prosecutors also are seeking the death penalty.

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  • Greg Thrasher

    I wish this trial would have lasted an entire year to explore the origins of Roof’s depravity to the tragejory of misery and pain his murders did to 9 families and our nation.


  • Charity Dell

    I wish that all of Dylan’s miserable life had been exposed to the public–his origin, his friends and folks he lived with, and what adults he hung out with. I still have trouble believing that a ninth-grade drop-out loser would suddenly get so interested in
    tracking down historic Black churches. Where did he live just prior to the murders? Which white supremacist groups was Dylan talking to? Why did he feel he had to kill those particular Black church members as opposed to other Black churches in other
    communities? A better punishment would be life in prison with all African-American inmates to torment him all his miserable days, preferably for the next 50 to 60 years.

    • He had a Rhodesian flag on his jacket. There’s no way that dimwit could have thought of that on his own. I think he was recruited and groomed for this murder spree. I wonder why the police bought him Burger King. When I had a run in with neo Nazis in NJ, I later found out there were local cops who were sympathetic to the neo Nazi cause.

  • Wanda Montgomery

    Hate won’t win but dylenn know better but he deserve to death im happy now

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