Roof guilty of all counts in S.C. church slaugh­ter

Same jury will re­con­vene next month to con­sider the death penalty

The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD - By Jef­frey Collins and Meg Kinnard

charleston, s.c.» Dy­lann Roof was con­victed Thurs­day in the chill­ing slaugh­ter of nine black church mem­bers who had wel­comed him to their Bi­ble study, a dev­as­tat­ing crime in a coun­try em­broiled in racial ten­sion.

The same fed­eral jury that found Roof guilty of all 33 counts will re­con­vene next month to hear more tes­ti­mony and weigh whether to sen­tence him to death. As the ver­dict was read, Roof just stared ahead, much as he did the en­tire trial.

Fam­ily mem­bers of vic­tims held hands and squeezed one another’s arms. One woman nod­ded her head ev­ery time the clerk said “guilty.”

Roof, 22, told FBI agents that, with the slay­ings, he wanted to bring back seg­re­ga­tion or per­haps start a race war. In­stead, the big­gest change to emerge from the June 17, 2015, killings was the re­moval of the Con­fed­er­ate flag from the State­house, where it had flown for 50 years over the Capi­tol or on the grounds. Roof ap­peared with the flag in sev­eral pho­tos in a racist man­i­festo.

The shoot­ing hap­pened just months af­ter Wal­ter Scott, an un­armed black man, was killed by white po­lice Of­fi­cer Michael Slager when he fled a traf­fic stop in North Charleston. Po­lice shoot­ings around the coun­try have height­ened ten­sions be­tween black com­mu­ni­ties and the law en­force­ment agen­cies that pa­trol them, some­times re­sult­ing in protests and ri­ots.

In Roof ’s con­fes­sion to the FBI, the gun­man said he car­ried out the killings af­ter re­search­ing “black-on-white crime” on the in­ter­net. He said he chose a church be­cause that set­ting posed lit­tle dan­ger to him.

The de­fense put up no wit­nesses dur­ing the seven-day trial. It tried to present ev­i­dence about Roof’s men­tal state, but the judge ruled that it did not have any­thing to do with Roof ’s guilt or in­no­cence.

Roof told the judge again that he wanted to act as his own at­tor­ney dur­ing the penalty phase. He also will face a death penalty trial in state court on nine mur­der charges.

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