Charleston shooting: Dylann Roof sentenced to death for South Carolina church massacre
A jury in South Carolina has sentenced Dylann Roof to death for killing nine black church members at a Bible study meeting in 2015.
Key points:Avowed white supremacist defended himself in penalty hearingsRoof was unrepentant and told the jury the massacre was something he felt he had to doHe is the first person to get death penalty for federal crimes
The Justice Department says he is the first person to get the death penalty for federal hate crimes.Roof, 22, an avowed white supremacist, was found guilty in December on all federal charges in the shooting deaths
of nine black parishioners on June 17 at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church."Justice is served in Charleston," said former North Carolina state senator Malcolm Graham, the younger brother of shooting victim Cynthia Hurd, in a Twitter post after the verdict."There's no place in a civilized society for hatred, racism or discrimination."
The shooting, where Roof had waited for members of a Bible study group to close their eyes in prayer before opening fire, sent shockwaves across the United States.Jurors deliberated on the penalty 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.Roof represented himself for the penalty phase and was unrepentant during his closing argument earlier in the day, telling jurors he did not have a mental illness.He told jurors he still felt the massacre was something he had to do and did not ask that his life be spared.Roof told FBI agents he wanted to bring back segregation or perhaps start a race war with the slayings.The jury found Roof guilty on all 33 federal counts against him including nine counts of hate crime resulting in death, three counts of hate crime involving an attempt to kill and nine counts of obstruction of exercise of religion resulting in death.In the penalty hearings, prosecutors argued Roof deserved to die because the shooting was calculated and intended to incite racial violence.Assistant US Attorney Jay Richardson said that 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.
Roof pulled the trigger 75 times as he methodically killed Hurd, 54; Clementa Pinckney, 41, the church's pastor and a state senator; DePayne, a Middleton Doctor, 49; Sharonda Coleman Singleton, 45; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Myra Thompson, 59; Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; and Tywanza Sanders, 26.A fundamental issue in the appeals process will be whether Roof was competent to serve as his own attorney, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the non-profit Death Penalty Information Center.Roof did not want jurors to hear mental health evidence and put up no defence against the death penalty.Mr Dunham said defence lawyers would likely use the trial to show appellate judges mental illness prevented him from adequately representing himself."Today's sentencing decision means that this case will not be over for a very long time," lawyers who represented Roof for the trial phase said in a statement."We are sorry that, despite our best efforts, the legal proceedings have shed so little light on the reasons for this tragedy," said the lawyers, who objected to Roof's self-representation.Roof also still faces a trial on murder charges in state court, where prosecutors are also seeking the death penalty.In the wake of the shootings, US president Barack Obama called
for tighter gun controls while delivering a eulogy for Reverend Pinckney.Mr Obama gave a rousing speech in front of thousands of mourners and at one point broke into a stirring rendition of Amazing Grace, a hymn often associated with African-American struggles.He praised Reverend Pinckney's "love, faith and purity". law-crime-and-justice