Federal jury sentences Dylann Roof to death
Prosecutor describes ‘ cold and calculated’ actions in massacre at church in 2015
A federal district court jury sentenced Dylann Roof to death Tuesday for his attack in June 2015 on a black church’s Bible study group that left nine people dead.
The jurors took very little time to make their decision after closing arguments. Roof, 22, looked down and shuffled papers as U. S. District Judge Richard Gergel read the death sentence.
The 10 women and two men found that all aggravating factors that Assistant U. S. Attorney Jay Richardson outlined applied and rejected some mitigating factors, such as Roof’s age or lack of previous felony convictions.
Roof asked about filing a motion for a new trial.
The judge said he will formally sentence the self- described white supremacist Wednesday though he is bound by the jury’s verdict.
Roof was found guilty last month of 33 federal counts in his attack June 17, 2015, on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, many of them based on hate crimes.
Richardson began the government’s closing statements Tuesday by taking jurors through testimony showing Roof’s “cold and calculated” actions that led to a “race- based massacre.”
After describing a peaceful gathering of the victims at Emanuel for the Bible study, he talked about the horrific shootings, what Richardson said were methodical executions.
He then reviewed the lives of each of the nine victims, telling jurors that testimony gave a window into the goodness in each.
Richardson called Roof “an extraordinary racist.” The shootings, he said, were “calculated, misguided but thoughtful.”
“He spent years acquiring this deep hatred,” the prosecutor said.
He said Roof targeted the church and the Bible study because it would have the most impact in making a racist statement.
“He chose to target them, knowing they would be particularly good people,” he said.