Jury Gives Dylann Roof Death Penalty

They shed tears and their voices shook, but none of them said whether Roof should face the death penalty or life in prison for gunning down the church members.

While the government's case seemed airtight in covering all the requirements for the death sentence, Roof's remarks Tuesday took less than five minutes.

The jury deliberated for about three hours.

The jury of nine whites and three blacks, who last month found Mr. Roof guilty of 33 counts for the attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, S.C., returned their unanimous verdict after about three hours of deliberations in the penalty phase of a heart-rending and often legally confounding trial.

Roof told Federal Bureau of Investigation agents when they arrested him after the June 17, 2015, slayings that he wanted the shootings to bring back segregation or perhaps start a race war. "I didn't have to do anything. I didn't have to do anything", Roof reportedly said in chilling closing arguments during his sentencing trial.

"I think that it's safe to say that no one in their right mind wants to go into a church and kill people", Roof told the jury.

Jurors also asked to re-watch a speech by the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was one of the nine people Roof killed during a Bible study in 2015. He will be formally sentenced on Wednesday, January 11. Roof was convicted in December of federal murder and hate crimes charges.

His remarks in open court marked the first time Roof himself was really heard by the USA public. "But what I meant when I said that was, I felt like I had to do it, and I still do feel like I had to do it".

That leaves jurors deciding his fate to consider only the evidence offered by US prosecutors, including four days of poignant testimony from more than 20 family and friends of the victims, who recounted the lives of their loved ones, ages 26 to 87, and the impact of their deaths. Richardson detailed Roof's lengthy preparation leading up to the shooting.

He presented no witnesses or evidence, blocked former and stand-by defense lawyers' attempts to call his mental health into question, and refused to express remorse.

Prosecutors say they will take about two hours to close out their argument as to why Dylann Roof should be executed for slaying nine people at a SC church.

Roof, 22, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, undertook the shootings because he believed it would help spark a race war in the United States - a battle the convicted killer expected to be won by whites.

  • Kyle Peterson