For the first time in the history of the U.S., the federal and state governments have pursued the death penalty for the same culprit. Today, Jan. 10, 2017, Dylann Roof was sentenced to die for the June 2015 killing of nine African-Americans attending a Bible study class in South Carolina.
Roof stood in court with an unapologetic expression on his face. Before the jury returned to pronounce his fate, Roof’s last words to panel members were that he was misjudged. However, he did not offer board members any clarification for the extermination of the victims or a single reason to pardon his life.
In court, Roof never changed his stance. He admitted that after he was arrested, he told FBI agents his actions were simply something he had to do. “But that’s not true,” Roof mentioned to the jury. “It wasn’t something I had to do. I didn’t have to do anything. What I meant when I said that was that I felt that I had to do it, and I even now, nothing has changed, I still feel the same.”
In turn, prosecuting attorneys expressed to adjudicators that Roof was an “emotionless” and “premeditated” racialist who terminated an entire group of individuals as “monster beings.” Then proceeded to believe his lie, thereby justifying the executions. Even after listening to the cries of the victim’s loved ones, he still showed no remorse. In fact, he stood with a blank look on his face.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Julius “Jay” Richardson stated, Roof has a hidden motive. “He needs you to think that you have been misinformed and that truly that his actions are warranted,” Richardson told the panel of nine whites and three black jury members. “[The accused] is pushing for you to believe that he was justified in carrying out a present-day lynching. Don’t allow this to be. Give the full portion of justice for this defendant. Sentence this defendant to his demise.”
Even if jury members in the federal legal proceedings choose to save his life, Roof still could be looking at a death sentence. Further information indicates that Roof is set to stand before a separate death penalty trial. This will take place in state court. There, the prosecuting attorneys are pursuing the death sentence for him as well.
Written by Jomo Merritt
Edited by Cathy Milne
Los Angeles Times: Dylann Roof sentenced to death in Charleston church shooting that killed 9
YAHOO! News: The Latest: Victim’s brother says death appropriate for Roof
Image by Ammodramus Courtesy of Wikimedia – Public Domain License