A panel of 12 jurors said Tuesday that Dylann Roof, the 22-year-old who murdered nine people at the historically black Emanuel AME church in Charleston, S.C., should be put to death. While it’s been over a year since the crime was committed in 2015, Roof’s defense says the sentencing decision made Tuesday “means that this case will not be over for a very long time.”
During his sentencing, Roof was assigned a defense team as he insisted on representing himself. However after the jury exited, he requested new lawyers from Judge Richard Gergel. Gergel replied that Roof could make the argument tomorrow at the formal sentencing hearing.
Roof’s defense said in a statement, “We want to express our sympathy to all of the families who were so grievously hurt by Dylann Roof’s actions.”
“We are sorry that, despite our best efforts, the legal proceedings have shed so little light on the reasons for this tragedy,” the defense continued.
Roof’s family offered deep condolences to the victims in a statement, saying they will “continue to pray for the Emanuel AME families and the Charleston community”.
“We 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,” their statement continued. “We wish to express the grief we feel for the victims of his crimes, and our sympathy to the many families he has hurt.”
Roof provided his own closing statement as well, lasting five short minutes, while the prosecution’s lasted over two hours. Talk about a difference.
Roof began, “Wouldn’t it be fair to say that the prosecution hates me because they’re trying to give me the death penalty?”
“Anyone who hates anything, in their mind has a good reason for it. And sometimes that’s because they’ve been misled and sometimes it isn’t. But I would say that in this case the prosecution, along with anyone else who hates me, are the ones who have been misled,” he continued.
“In my confession to the FBI, I told them that I had to do it, and obviously that’s not really true. … I didn’t have to do anything… 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.”
Roof suggested that he would like to avoid the death penalty but with little hope.
“From what I’ve been told, I have a right to ask you to give me a life sentence, but I’m not sure what good that will do anyway,” Roof said. “But what I will say is only one of you has to disagree with the other jurors.”
The Assistant U.S. Attorney General Jay Richardson offered a closing statement which triggered deep emotion, unlike Roof’s.
The prosecutor mentioned all of the victims individually and stated their roles in the community, also highlighting that the victims had welcomed Roof to their church. Richardson then showed photos of Roof pointing a gun to the camera, exhibiting a blank expression, much like the one he displayed during the trial. He went on to emphasize Roof’s lack of sympathy and remorse for the victims.
Richardson then quoted an excerpt from Roof’s journal which was removed from his jail cell. It read, “I do not regret what I did. I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.”
It looks like the jury is set on the ultimate punishment for Dylan Roof, and rightfully so after killing nine innocent church members in cold blood back in June of 2015.