Jury sentences Dylann Roof to death for killing 9 black church m - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Jury sentences Dylann Roof to death for killing 9 black church members

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Dylann Roof Dylann Roof

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - A jury has sentenced Dylann Roof to death for killing nine black church members. The decision makes Roof the first to receive the death penalty sentence for federal hate crimes.

Earlier Tuesday, Roof told jurors that he could ask them for life in prison instead of the death penalty for killing nine black church members, but was not sure "what good that would do."

In his closing argument, Roof did not ask for mercy or forgiveness and told the jury he felt like he had to carry out the slayings during a Bible study on June 17, 2015.

"I still feel like I had to do it," Roof said.

Every juror looked directly at Roof as he spoke to them for about five minutes. A few nodded as he reminded them that they said during jury selection they could fairly weigh the factors about whether he should get life in prison or the death penalty.

Roof said prosecutors couldn't go into his mind and they showed hatred by seeking the death penalty against him.

Prosecutors said Roof, a 22-year-old white man, deserved execution because he went to the historic Emanuel AME Church with a gun and a "hateful heart."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said the 12 people Roof targeted were God-fearing church members who opened the door for a white stranger with a smile. Three people survived.

"They welcomed a 13th person that night ... with a kind word, a Bible, a handout and a chair," Richardson said during his closing argument. "He had come with a hateful heart and a Glock .45."

Richardson reminded jurors about each one of the victims and the bloody crime scene that Roof left behind in the church's lower level. Roof sat with the Bible study group for about 45 minutes. During the final prayer - when everyone's eyes were closed - he started firing. He stood over some of the fallen victims, shooting them again as they lay on the floor, the prosecutor said.

The prosecutor said they proved Roof was a cold, calculated killer and noted that when Roof had one last chance to express remorse, he instead hung on to his racist beliefs.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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