Dylann Roof Sentenced To Death For Charleston Church Shooting
Jurors deliberated for just two hours before sentencing the racist mass murderer to death
A South Carolina jury on Tuesday sentenced white supremacist mass murderer Dylann Roof to death for the race-based murders of nine people at a historically black church in Charleston in June of 2015.
Roof put up little fight during a four-and-a-half-day sentencing phase of his trial that concluded on Tuesday afternoon. He called no witnesses and presented no mitigating evidence to sway jurors in favor of a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. He did address the jury during closing statements, telling the jurors “I felt like I had to do it. And I still feel like I had to do it.” About a possible death sentence, Roof said, “I have a right to ask you to give me a life sentence. But I’m not sure what good that would do.”
Jurors deliberated for just two hours after an emotional sentencing hearing that included victim impact statements from the loved ones of several of Roof’s victims. Jurors ultimately decided on a death sentence for the remorseless killer.
Since the June 17, 2015 murders at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, several of the victims’ families argued against a death sentence for Roof, despite the federal government’s decision to try the murders as a capitol case.
“I want that guy every morning when he wakes up, and every time he has an opportunity for quiet and solitude, to think of what Tywanza said to him: ‘We mean you no harm. You don’t have to do this,'” Andrew Savage III, a Charleston lawyer representing some of the victims’ families, told the New York Times in November, referring to Tywanza Sanders, a 26-year-old victim of Roof’s attack.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in November that the decision to seek the death penalty for Roof stems from “the nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision.”
Roof’s road to death row will be a long one — despite his crimes, he isn’t going to meet the executioner’s needle tomorrow.
The average amount of time death row inmates spend appealing their convictions before their executions is 15 years, according to data from the Death Penalty Information Center. That average includes cases in both federal and state jurisdictions. The 62 federal inmates on death row have been there an average of 11.5 years. Roof’s sentence is in federal court. He awaits another trial — and another potential death sentence — in state court. That trial was scheduled to begin on January 17, but was delayed indefinitely last week to give the state time to prepare its case since the federal trial was still ongoing.
“We have been closely monitoring and in constant consultation with the federal prosecutors who have done an outstanding job in the Roof case. Our plans have not changed but we will continue to re-evaluate as the circumstances dictate,” Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said in a statement last week.