U.S. v. Dylann Roof: Justice Dept. to Seek Death Penalty for Charleston Killings

By Sheryl Estrada

Dylann Roof

The U.S. Department of Justice has decided to seek the death penalty against Dylann Roof, who stands accused of opening fire on June 17, 2015, during Bible study at the Charleston, South Carolina, historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Nine Black church members were killed, including the pastor, South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney.

“Following the department’s rigorous review process to thoroughly consider all relevant factual and legal issues, I have determined that the Justice Department will seek the death penalty,” Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement Tuesday regarding the United States v. Dylann Roof. “The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision.”

Related Story: 9 Members of Historic Black Church Killed in Hate Crime, Suspect Caught

In addition, Roof, who was caught and arrested on June 18, also faces the death penalty in state court. The trial is scheduled to begin in January.

According to The Post and Courier, seeking the death penalty has been rare for the federal government since it reinstated capital punishment:

“Of thousands of eligible cases since then, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has authorized prosecutors to seek execution in about 500. [Roof’s case] is especially unusual, experts said, because state prosecutors had already announced plans to seek Roof’s execution in their separate case against him.”

The 22-year-old faces 33 federal charges including hate crimes, firearms violations and obstructing the practice of religion. A trial date has not yet been scheduled.

There is no possibility of a plea deal in either the state or federal case, unless prosecutors change their plans.

During a press conference in July to announce federal hate crime chargesagainst Roof,Lynch said the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division deduced he specifically targeted Blacks for death because of their race and planned to do so while they were in religious worship. She said Roof chose a historically Black church for its “significance to Charleston, South Carolina, and the nation.”

Related Story: Charleston, S.C.: A Millennial’s Perspective on Racism in Her City

A website registered in Roof’s name went public in June. It featured photos of him at Confederate heritage sites and an almost 2,500-word racist manifesto. The author of the manifesto also wrote, “I have never been the same since,” after finding theCouncil of Conservative Citizens, a White Nationalist group, website through a Google search. Survivors of the shooting in Charleston said Roof yelled racial slurs during the attack. Authorities have also stated that Roof said he wanted to start arace war.

“Racially motivated crimes such as this is the original domestic terrorism,” Lynch said in July. “The parishioners had Bibles. Dylann Roof had his .45-caliber Glock pistol, and eight magazines loaded with hollow-point bullets.”

Roof’s association with the Confederate flag prompted the public and many officials to call for its removal from South Carolina’s Capitol grounds.

In June President Barack Obama gave a eulogy for Pinckney, during which he explained why theConfederate battle flagneeded to be removed.

“For many, Black and white, that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation,”he said. “We see that now.”

The flag was removed from the Capitol grounds on July 10, and states such as Alabama have done the same, while other states, like Mississippi, still debate the issue.

Latest News

Three BASF Women Leaders Honored at the Manufacturing Institute’s 2021 STEP Ahead Awards

Originally published at basf.com. BASF ranked No. 12 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Three BASF leaders in manufacturing were among 130 women recognized nationally at The Manufacturing Institute’s ninth annual STEP Ahead Awards. Focusing on science, technology, engineering and production (STEP), the program recognizes women…

Wells Fargo Pledges $1 Million to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund for HBCU Seniors

Originally published at newsroom.wf.com. Wells Fargo ranked No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Wells Fargo and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) are teaming up to help close the graduation gap for college seniors attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The $1 million Thurgood Marshall…

Hershey Employees and Retirees in the US and Canada Pledged More Than $900,000 in 2021 To Support Nonprofit Organizations

Originally published on LinkedIn. The Hershey Company ranked No. 10 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.    Each year, our Season of Giving campaign encourages Hershey employees to make a difference by supporting nonprofit organizations which they find to be meaningful. Employees and retirees in…

Creating Windows and Mirrors: Hershey’s Amber Murayi on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the ‘World’s Top Female-Friendly Company’

Amber Murayi is the Hershey Company’s Senior Director of Enterprise Strategy & Business Model Innovation & Co-lead of the Women’s Business Resource Group. The Hershey Company ranked No. 10 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.    My position affords me a unique view of DEI…

book banning

American Library Association Documents 155 Attempts at Banning Books About POC or LGBTQ Issues in the Last 6 Months

In a depressing turn for anyone who thought society may have outgrown book burning or censorship of books over the last 100 years, it appears the hate-filled phenomenon is back on the rise, increasing with alarming frequency across the country. CNN’s Nicole Chavez has reported the American Library Association “has…