Dylann Roof, the 22 year old who shot nine African American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina one and a half years ago has been sentenced to death by the jury.
The white supremacist attended Bible study with a gun on June 17, 2015 and shot the victims at the conclusion of their Bible study.
Closing arguments were made at his federal sentencing today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson reminded to jury of the “racist hatred,” citing examples of Roof’s scouting of the church multiple times prior to the shooting, his reloading of the gun seven times, and his lack of remorse throughout the entire trial. Richardson’s extensive closing statements were concluded with a tribute to the victims and their lives leading up to the shooting.
“Sentence this defendant to death for killing Clementa Pinckney,” Richardson said. He then repeated the phrase, inserting every victim’s name each time.
Roof also made his five minute closing argument, as he represented himself throughout the penalty phase of the trial.
“I have a right to ask you to give me a life sentence,” Roof said. “But I’m not sure what good that would do. All I know is only one of you has to disagree with giving me the death penalty.”
Roof expounded on his hatred, saying, “Anyone who hates anything, in their mind has a good reason for it. And sometimes that’s because they’ve been misled and sometimes it isn’t. But I would say that in this case the prosecution, along with anyone else who hates me, are the ones who have been misled.”
The jury reached its sentencing agreement after less than three hours’ deliberation, and has since sentenced Roof to death.
Roof faces separate prosecution from the state of South Carolina, in which the death penalty will also be sought. The world will watch and wait for the families of the victims to receive some sense of closure.