On Thursday, Dylann Roof, 22, who murdered nine black people in a June 2015 attack at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina during the victims’ Bible study in a racially motived attack, was convicted on all 33 counts after a jury took less than two hours to reach its verdict.
Roof was convicted by a jury of nine white people and three black people; they will meet on January 3 to decide if Roof should face life in prison or the death penalty.
The panel of nine white people and three black people will reconvene next month to decide whether Roof faces life in prison or the death penalty. Roof simply stared ahead as the verdict was read.
Before the verdict was reached, the jury had asked to rehear part of Roof’s videotaped confession. Roof had told the FBI that he murdered five people; he was surprised he had killed nine people.
Witnesses in the trial testified that Roof had visited Charleston numerous times in the months before the attack. Defense attorney David Bruck argued Roof was suicidal, and never understood exactly what he had done.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams told jurors Roof waited until the Bible study group had its eyes closed for prayer before he shot and killed them; Williams added that Roof believed black people were animals and less than human.
In Roof’s “manifesto” he wrote, " "The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case . . .” He added, “Negroes have lower Iqs, lower impulse control, and higher testosterone levels in generals. These three things alone are a recipe for violent behavior.” Roof stated wanted to start a race war by targeting Emanuel AME Church. He wrote, "I have no choice. I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country."
Roof represented himself for much of the trial.