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Roof gets death penalty for Charleston church massacre

Cynthia Roldan and John Monk, The State (Columbia, S.C.) on

Published in News & Features

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Dylann Roof was sentenced to death Tuesday for killing nine African-Americans at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church in June 2015, which a federal jury deemed a hate crime.

The judge announced the jury's decision just before 5 p.m. Tuesday. Roof, who is white, showed no emotion. He did ask for new lawyers to help him file a motion for a retrial. Judge Richard Gergel, however, told him he would need to file a motion himself if that was what he wanted.

Roof's family, who are from the Columbia area, immediately sent out a statement:

"We are Dylann Roof's family. We will always love Dylann. 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. We wish to express the grief we feel for the victims of his crimes, and our sympathy to the many families he has hurt. We continue to pray for the Emanuel AME families and the Charleston community."

Deliberations started around 1:35 p.m. Tuesday after Roof told jurors they had been misled by prosecutors about his alleged deep hatred of African-Americans.

Roof represented himself in the penalty phase of his hate crimes trial, giving a closing argument that lasted about five minutes. He argued that he has never said he hates African-Americans, but that "I don't like what black people do."

"And anyone, including the prosecution, that thinks that I'm filled with hate has no idea what real hate is," Roof said. "They don't know anything about hate. They don't know what real hatred looks like. They think they do. But they don't, really."

Roof went on to tell the jury that he knew he had the right to ask them to give him a life sentence. But he said, "I'm not sure what good that would do."

That case was made by lead prosecuting attorney Jay Richardson during his closing argument, which lasted two hours, before Roof gave his. Richardson went through every horrific detail revealed during the last month of the federal hate crimes trial of Roof.

Richardson noted Roof's extensive planning, his continued lack of remorse and the damage he caused to the family members of the victims he killed.

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