Dylann Roof Sentenced to Death for Charleston Church Massacre
After about three hours of deliberation, the South Carolina jury that found unrepentant white supremacist Dylann Roof guilty of murdering nine black worshippers at a Charleston church sentenced the 22-year-old to death.
The New York Times reports the jury of nine whites and three blacks, who last month found Roof guilty of 33 counts for the June 17, 2015 massacre at the iconic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, was unanimous in its decision.
Roof fatally shot nine people: pastor and South Carolina state senator Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Sharonda Singleton, Dr. Daniel L. Simmons, Ethel Lee Lance, Cynthia Hurd, Myra Thompson, Susie Jackson and Tywanza Sanders. In his confession, Roof coolly told investigators how he sat silently with churchgoers for 15 minutes on that fateful night while deciding whether or not to go through with his murderous plan. “I just finally decided I had to do it,” he said. Roof fired 74 shots during his rampage. “When I got in there it was not really about how many I could kill,” he explained. “After I shot some, I didn’t feel like I needed to shoot everybody.”
At least one of the massacre survivors was specifically chosen by Roof. “Did I shoot you yet?” Polly Sheppard recalled Roof asking as he pointed a gun at her. “I’m not going to,” he said. “I need you to tell the story.”
Roof never shirked from his crime. “I am guilty,” he declared in his confession. “We all know I’m guilty.”
The avowed white supremacist was motivated by hatred of black people, telling investigators he hoped to spark a race war. “Somebody had to do something because black people are killing white people every day,” Roof said during one FBI interrogation session. “They rape 100 white people a day,” he said. While in prison, roof wrote he was “not sorry” for the killings. “I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed,” he wrote. Roof also hated Jews, who he said were “undoubtedly our enemies,” gays and Hispanics, who he said “introduce crime and violence in our country.” He opined that Hitler would one day be “inducted as a saint.”
Last week, Federal District Judge Richard M. Gergel refused to declare Roof incompetent to face the sentencing phase of his trial. Prosecutors in the case urged the jury to sentence Roof to die, saying he had a “hateful heart” for targeting black parishioners who welcomed him into their Bible study session just before he started killing them.
Roof acted as his own attorney during the sentencing phase. He remained unrepentant and showed no remorse during his closing statement, saying “I still feel like I had to do it.” Roof also refused to ask the jury to spare his life. “I have the right to ask you to give me a life sentence, but I’m not sure what good it would do anyway,” he said.