Jury sentences Dylann Roof to death for Charleston church slayings
A federal jury sentenced Dylann Roof to death on Tuesday for killing nine black parishioners during a massacre inside a church here last year. Roof was convicted last month of 33 counts of federal hate crimes. The same jury that found him guilty on all counts last month deliberated Tuesday for just under three hours before deciding his sentence. Relatives of the victims said the decision was the just outcome. “Justice was served,” said Kevin Singleton, whose mother, Myra Thompson, was killed. “It still doesn’t change anything for the families, but I hope it can be a deterrent in the future.” “I didn’t think the verdict would affect me the way it has; I haven’t stopped crying,” said Aja’ Risher, granddaughter of victim Ethel Lance. “But I’m so happy that their lives matter. It’s not just a terrible tragedy that happened. It renews my faith a little bit.” “If this case didn’t warrant the death penalty, what case would?” Risher said in a telephone interview. “He took it upon himself to take nine beautiful lives. Now 12 people of all races have said his life if the price he needs to pay for that.” Risher’s mother, the Rev. Sharon Risher, said she “felt like my heart was going to pop” as she sat in the courtroom and listened to the sentencing decision. She said she had been ambivalent about the death penalty, but had resigned herself to accept whatever decision the jury made. “But now that they have said he will get the death penalty, I feel that they have given him what he deserves,” she said. “It is well with my soul.” Earlier Tuesday, Roof, 22, had stood before the jury and delivered a halting and cryptic closing argument, suggesting that the prosecution “hates me” and that his killing of nine parishioners at a Bible study meeting in 2015 was not motivated by hatred of black people. “Anyone that thinks I’m filled with hatred has no idea what real hatred is,” said Roof, a self-described white supremacist who has said he hoped his high-profile killings would incite a race war in America. “They don’t know anything about me. They don’t know what real hatred looks like. They think they do, but they don’t.” “I would say that in this case, the prosecution and anyone else who hates me are the ones that have been misled,” Roof said in a soft voice, standing before the eight women and four men who, shortly after, began deliberating whether to sentence him to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.


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