After just two hours of deliberation, a jury on Dec. 15 found Dylann Roof guilty in the June 2015 shooting that killed nine African-Americans at a Charleston, S.C., church.
Roof was convicted on all 33 federal charges, including using a firearm to commit murder, violating civil rights, obstructing the free exercise of religion, and other hate crime–related offenses. Eighteen of the charges carry the death penalty.
During the trial, jurors heard Roof’s taped confession, a reading of his racist manifesto, and testimony linking him to the gun used in the crime. Attorneys for Roof presented no witnesses of their own. In arguments to the jury, they portrayed him as an impressionable youth influenced by racist content on the internet. Roof had received permission to represent himself at trial, but later decided to bring back his lawyers for the guilt phase.
The jurors will return in January for the penalty phase, when they will decide whether to sentence Roof to death or life in prison.
Earlier today, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams told jurors how Roof entered Emanuel AME Church and waited until a Bible study group had its eyes closed for prayer before he opened fire. The prosecution’s closing statement concentrated less on the facts of the crime and more on Roof’s hatred of African-Americans. Williams said Roof believed African-Americans were animals and less than human. He apologized to the jury before showing them photos of bodies at the crime scene next to pictures of each victim when he or she was alive.
“Those people couldn’t see the hatred in his heart any more than they could see the .45-caliber handgun and the eight magazines concealed around his waist,” Williams said.
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Publication date: December 19, 2016