Dylan Roof Convicted in Slayings of 9 Black Church Members
in South Carolina
December 15th, 2016
by Associated Press
Time Free Press
http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2016/dec/15/ dylan-roof-convicted-slayings-9-black-church-members-south-carolina/ 403247/
A shorter URL for the above link:
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) 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 that was already deeply 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 he wanted to bring back segregation or perhaps start a race war with the slayings. Instead, the single biggest change to emerge from the June 17, 2015, killings was the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina 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. While that slaying didn’t set off the violent protests seen around the country around that time, it deepened the wounds. And just last week, a mistrial was declared in Slager’s murder trial.
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.
Roof told the judge again Thursday that he wanted to act as his own attorney during the penalty phase. He will also face a death penalty trial in state court on nine murder charges.
In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams mocked Roof for calling himself brave in his hate-filled journal and during his confession, saying the real bravery came from the victims who tried to stop him as he fired 77 bullets at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church.
“Those people couldn’t see the hatred in his heart any more than they could see the .45-caliber handgun and the eight magazines concealed around his waist,” Williams said.
Defense lawyer David Bruck conceded Roof committed the slayings, but he asked jurors to look into his head and see what caused him to become so full of hatred, calling him a suicidal loner who never grasped the gravity of what he did.
The defense put up no witnesses during the seven-day trial. They tried to present evidence about his mental state, but the judge ruled that it did not have anything to do with Roof’s guilt or innocence.
Roof was just imitating what he saw on the internet and believed he had to give his life to “a fight to the death between white people and black people that only he” could see and act on, Bruck said.
The prosecutor’s 50-minute closing argument filled the court with tension. At times, the prosecutor raised his voice, saying Roof was a cold, calculated killer. Some family members of victims dabbed their eyes with tissues, and jurors appeared emotional when Williams, after apologizing to them, showed crime scene photos of each person killed alongside a small picture of them while alive.
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