CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Dylann Roof was sentenced to death Tuesday for killing nine black church members during Bible study in a racially motivated attack, the first person to face execution for federal hate crime convictions.
A jury deliberated his sentence for about three hours, capping a trial in which Roof did not fight for his life or show any remorse. At the beginning of the trial, he addressed jurors directly, insisting that he wasn’t mentally ill, but he never asked them for forgiveness or mercy, or explained the crime.
He threw away one last chance to plead for his life on Tuesday, telling jurors: “I still feel like I had to do it.”
Every juror looked directly at Roof as he spoke for about five minutes. A few nodded as he reminded them that they said during jury selection they could fairly weigh the factors of his case. Only one of them, he noted, had to disagree 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.
When the verdict was read, he stood stoic and showed no emotion. He will be formally sentenced Wednesday.
Roof told FBI agents when they arrested him a day after the June 17, 2015, slayings that he wanted the shootings to bring back segregation or perhaps start a race war. Instead, the slayings had a unifying effect, as South Carolina removed the Confederate flag from its Statehouse for the first time in more than 50 years and other states followed suit, taking down Confederate banners and monuments. Roof had posed with the flag in photos.
The attacker specifically picked out Emanuel AME Church, the South’s oldest black church, to carry out the cold, calculated slaughter, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said.
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