Dylann Roof receives death penalty from federal jury

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Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams delivers opening remarks in this courtroom sketch at the trial of Dylann Roof, who is facing the death penalty for the hate-fueled killings of nine black churchgoers, in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Sketch by Robert Maniscalco - RTX2XJHA

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams delivers opening remarks in this courtroom sketch at the trial of Dylann Roof, who is facing the death penalty for the hate-fueled killings of nine black churchgoers, in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo by REUTERS/Sketch by Robert Maniscalco

A federal jury sentenced Dylann Roof to death for killing nine black parishioners in 2015 at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Roof was convicted on Dec. 15 on 33 federal charges, including hate crimes. He is the first person sentenced to die for a federal hate crime.

Jurors began deliberations earlier on Tuesday, taking a little less than three hours to unanimously decide he would receive the death penalty.

Roof, acting as his own attorney, called no witnesses in the sentencing phase of his trial. Charleston’s The Post and Courier reported that he offered a “disjointed” statement from a single piece of paper.

“I still feel like I had to do it,” said Roof, the 22-year-old self-proclaimed white supremacist.

“If I was really filled with as much hate as I allegedly am, wouldn’t I just say, ‘Yes, I hate black people?’” Roof said. “Wouldn’t it be fair to say the prosecution hates me because they are trying to get the death penalty?”

READ MORE: Why hate crimes are so difficult to convict

In his closing arguments , Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson reminded jurors of the testimony they heard of the bloody scene left at the church after the shooting and shared personal stories about the victims.

Police reports indicated Roof sat with a group of churchgoers at the historically black church for close to an hour before pulling out his gun.

After being arrested and interrogated by FBI, Roof said he wanted to start a “race war.”  

Roof still faces a separate state trial for the crime. Those charges also come with the possibility of the death penalty.

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