The jury has unanimously chosen death in the penalty portion of the trial of Dylann Roof.
Dylann Roof, the 22-year-old who killed nine people in a racially motivated attack on an African-American church in Charleston, SC on June 17, 2015, has been sentenced to death. The verdict was reached today after about three hours of deliberation. Roof was found guilty of all the charges brought against him in December, and the recent proceedings were to decide if he should be given the death penalty or life in prison. The jury was unanimous in sentencing Roof to death. According to The NY Times, Roof showed no emotion as the verdict was read.
As part of the prosecution's closing argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson reminded the jury of Roof's intentions to incite a "race war" and that he, throughout the trial, has remained "unrepentant," saying, "He understood the consequence that would be coming," reports NBC News.
The shooting took place at the Charleston Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, which has the oldest A.M.E. congregation in the Southern U.S. and holds a vital place in black history and in the Civil Rights Movement. Roof had visited Emanuel A.M.E. a total of eight times in the six months leading up to the day of the killings, when he entered the church and sat silently among a Bible study group for 45 minutes before deciding to open fire.
In a statement shared today, Roof's family said that they will "struggle as long as we live to understand why he committed this horrible attack, which caused so much pain to so many good people.”
In the wake of the verdict, Roof has filed a motion for a new trial, in which he hopes to be granted new lawyers, reports Janae Frazier of WLTX News, though the judge is "strongly disinclined" to consider his request. Roof is scheduled to be formally sentenced tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM.
As noted by The NY Times, the federal government has not executed one of its prisoners since 2003. A case like this could lead to years of appeals, regarding Roof's mental health and possible bias that could be involved in such an emotionally-charged trial. In a post-verdict statement, Roof's defense said that it does not expect the case to be over for "a very long time." They closed the statement with an apology: "We are sorry that, despite our best efforts, the legal proceedings have shed so little light on the reasons for this tragedy."