Crime

Guilty Verdict, Possible Death Penalty For Dylann Roof

| by Lauren Briggs

A jury convicted Dylann Roof on Dec. 15 of killing nine black Bible study participants at a South Carolina church in June 2015, after they welcomed him into their house of worship.

The 22-year-old self-identified white supremacist was found guilty of all 33 counts with which he was charged, including more than 20 charges related to committing a federal hate crime, reports NBC News. While he heard the verdict, the defendant stood motionless and silent in the courtroom, his face devoid of expression.

When asked, he told the judge that he understood that 18 of those charges could lead to the death penalty and that he wished to represent himself upon sentencing.

The killer told the FBI during his recorded confession that he selected the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church both for its historic black status as well as for the likelihood that nobody there would pose a threat to him during the murders, notes The Associated Press. He also researched black on white crimes and said that he committed the massacre in the hopes of starting a race war or bringing back legal segregation.

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Following the shooting, state leaders removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse, where it had stood for 50 years.

Roof attended the summer Bible study, armed with a Glock pistol, for nearly 45 minutes, with a borrowed Bible, until the congregation members shut their eyes for the closing prayer. Roof then raised his weapon and opened fire.

"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," Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams said during the prosecution's closing arguments, according to the AP.

During the final days of the trial, several leading politicians in the state voiced their support for those affected by the killings, including Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, who said that "justice has been served" by the verdict.

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"As the killer now awaits sentencing, I want the families of those lost that day to know one thing: we are all still with you," said Republican State Sen. Tim Scott, according to NBC News. "While this chapter is now closed, the rest of the book has yet to be written."

Sources: NBC News, AP via WTOP, Nikki Haley/Twitter / Photo credit: Dylann Roof/Facebook via The Huffington Post

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