Dylann Roof was convicted of federal hate crimes by a South Carolina jury on Thursday for murdering nine black parishioners at a historically black church last year. Closing arguments in the case ended earlier Thursday; jury deliberations took little more than two hours.
Roof, 22, was found guilty on all 33 counts for fatally shooting nine members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015. Jurors will decide whether he should be given death penalty when sentencing begins in January.
Jurors watched the self-declared white supremacist’s on-camera confession Monday, in which he conceded to killing the bible study attendees at the Emanuel AME church, also known as Mother Emanuel, Reuters reported.
“The parishioners could not have seen the hatred in his heart,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams told the jury. “He sat and waited until they were at their most vulnerable.”
Williams argued Roof “needs to be held accountable for every bullet.”
Defense attorney David Bruck pushed jurors to consider Roof’s mental state, saying he was an impressionable loner, reported WYFF 4, a local station. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled that Roof’s mental state should only be discussed during the sentencing phase of the trial.
Jurors heard witness testimony this week from victims’ family members, saw photos of the victims’ bodies, heard Roof’s racist sentiments read aloud and watched footage of Roof laughing following the attack.
The jury, made up of nine white and three black jurors, could watch as little or as much of the entirety of Roof’s two-hour confession as they wanted at Gergel’s request, WYFF 4 reported.
About an hour into their deliberations today, the jury sent a note to Gergel asking to listen to Roof discussing how many people he killed in the confession. He believed he killed five and was surprised when told the number was nine.
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