On Tuesday, a federal jury handed down a death sentence to the white supremacist man who was convicted of murdering 9 African-Americans in a Charleston church. The actions of Dylann S. Roof shocked the nation when news broke out about it roughly 19 months ago. Roof had been invited into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church by one of his future victims. He sat with them for about an hour before he pulled out his firearm and killed everyone in the room.
In December, a jury made up of three black jurors and nine white jurors had found Roof guilty on each of the 33 counts he was charged with. It took the jury only three hours to come to an unanimous verdict on the charges. This same jury would go on to deliver a death sentence to Roof on January 10th, 2017.
Roof delivered his own closing argument a few hours before the jury deliberated. He basically asked them to give him a life sentence rather than a death sentence. Although, he said that “I’m not sure what good that would do.” Later when the jury came out with their verdict and it was read to the court, Roof showed no emotion or expression to his death sentence.
Some of the victims’ family members were in the federal courtroom while the sentencing verdict was read. Melvin Graham was one of the family members there and she welcomed the decision to sentence Roof to death. Her sister was a librarian named Cynthia Hurd and she was one of the victims killed in the church by Roof.
Roof’s family members have remained silent throughout most of this whole case since he was arrested. After the sentencing hearing, Roof’s family made a public statement which said they were struggling to figure out why he committed such a horrible attack that caused pain to so many people who were good.
The Justice Department was the entity which sought the death penalty in this case. Since the attack was based on racism and hatred, Roof was charged with federal hate crimes for his actions in addition to the murder and civil rights violation charges.