Back in June of 2015, Dylann Roof slaughtered nine parishioners of Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church as they closed their eyes in prayer.
Throughout his trial, he maintained that he was of sound mind at the time of the attack, and he offered no sign of remorse when given the opportunity.
Today, the 22-year-old was condemned to death by a federal jury.
Roof, an avowed neo-Nazi, never made any attempt to conceal the fact that his crimes were racially motivated, and any doubts about his guilt were eliminated over the course of his trial.
Roof confessed to his crimes shortly after his arrest, and though he did not carry through on his plan to represent himself at trial, he consistently went against the advice of his court-appointed attorneys, failing to
In fact, at times, it seemed as though Roof was all but daring the jury to sentence him to death.
Last month, Roof was found guilty, and the heinous nature of his crimes, coupled with his unabashedly hateful belief system seemed to make the death penalty a virtual foregone conclusion.
Roof’s family has issued a public plea for privacy.
Shortly after his arrest, they issued a statement saying that they would “struggle as long as we live to understand why he committed this horrible attack, which caused so much pain to so many good people.”
Several of the victims’ family members pleaded with the court to spare Roof’s life, reminding the jurors – nine of whom were white, three black – that the victims were a pious bunch, who believed that all human life is sacred.
In the end, however, it seems the jury felt that Roof’s crimes were so deplorable that no lesser punishment would be sufficient.
According to testimony and police reports, Roof made six scouting trips to the Charleston church before entering during a Bible study session on June 17, 2015.
He was welcomed by South Carolina State Senator Rev. Clementa C. Pickney and the other parishioners in attendance.
He sat quietly among the group, waiting until they closed their eyes for a benediction.
When his victims’ defenses were down, Roof fired 70 shots, killing Pickney and 8 others.
The youngest victim was Tywnza Sanders, age 26, who bravely pleaded with Roof to stop the killing.
“You blacks are killing white people on the streets everyday and raping white women everyday,” he replied, according to his own prison manifesto.
Those present in the courtroom say Roof showed no emotion upon learning that he had been condemned to death.