Dylann Roof has been sentenced to die for the June 2015 mass murders of nine black men and women in a racially-motivated attack on a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
A jury deliberated for about four hours before finding that the 22-year-old, a professed white supremacist, should be put to death. The verdict was unanimous.
Before reaching their verdict, the jury asked the judge a series of questions that seemed to indicate that they were leaning toward life imprisonment. But as the verdict was read, the jurors agreed unanimously that several aggravating factors had been achieved, including a lack of remorse.
“The horrific aspects of this case justify the death penalty,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said in his closing statement at the sentencing. “It outweighs anything else you might consider on the other side.”
As the verdict was read, Roof stared straight ahead in the courtroom, his hands clasped in front of him. He showed no emotion. As the jurors were polled, he looked down at some papers on the defense table.
Roof then stood and requested new lawyers, to seek a retrial, though the judge said he was not inclined to grant that request.
His sentencing “sends a strong message” about the intolerance for hate crimes, Malcolm Graham told the Associated Press. Graham’s sister, Cynthia Hurd, was killed in the 2015 attack.