On Friday, a Federal jury rendered a unanimous decision to give Dylann Storm Roof death for his June 2015 crime. According to the U.S. Justice Department, this is the first time a death penalty verdict was rendered in a federal hate crimes case.
ABC News reports that Roof may have sealed his fate with the following closing statement: “I think that it’s safe to say that no one in their right mind wants to go into a church and kill people.”
He added, “In my confession to the FBI, I told them that I had to do it.
“But obviously that’s not really true. I didn’t have to do it, and no one made me do it,” Roof said. “What I meant when I said that was I felt like I had to do it, and I still feel like I had to do it.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said that before the killings, Roof’s racist hatred built up for years. He scouted the Mother Emanuel AME church months before the shooting, calling and visiting. ABC News reports:
After buying the murder weapon with his birthday money, Roof bought enough magazines to have 88 rounds, which had racist symbolism, Richardson said: 88 is an abbreviation for the Nazi salute “Heil Hitler,” as “h” is the eighth letter in the alphabet.
Besides a website where he shared his message of “hate,” Richardson said, Roof mentally and physically prepared for the shooting; he took photos with his gun pointed at the camera and recorded video of his target practice.
“He chose to videotape himself doing it so he could see the very last images these victims would see,” Richardson said, according to WCIV. “He wanted to see what he would look like as he stood over them, executing them.”
Richardson said Roof showed multiple times that he didn’t have remorse, including with the shoes he wore in court during this trial that had racist symbols on them.
Roof’s family said in a statement, “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.”
Melvin Graham, brother of slain churchgoer Cynthia Hurd, said after the sentence was read, “Today we had justice for my sister,” but added, it was a “very hollow victory because my sister’s still gone. I wish that this verdict could have brought her back.”
Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement, “Roof sought out and opened fire on African-American parishioners engaged in worship. … He did so because of their race. And he did so to interfere with their peaceful exercise of religion. The victims in the case led lives as compassionate civic and religious leaders; devoted public servants and teachers; and beloved family members and friends.
“No verdict can bring back the nine we lost that day at Mother Emanuel,” Lynch continued. “And no verdict can heal the wounds of the five church members who survived the attack or the souls of those who lost loved ones to Roof’s callous hand. But we hope that the completion of the prosecution provides the people of Charleston — and the people of our nation — with a measure of closure.”
Roof also faces a state trial in which he may again face the death penalty.
source: the root