In December, the same jury of three black people and nine white people found Roof guilty on 33 federal counts, including hate crimes resulting in death, religious obstruction and use of a firearm to commit murder during a crime of violence. Roof had pleaded not guilty.
Before sentencing deliberations began on Tuesday, Roof addressed the jury and suggested that they should spare his life.
“I felt like I had to do it, and I still feel like I had to do it,” he said. “From what I’ve been told, I have a right to ask you to give me a life sentence, but I’m not sure what good that will do anyway. But what I will say is only one of you has to disagree with the other jurors.”
In his rambling five-minute statement, Roof also talked about whether he hated African Americans. “The FBI asked if I hated black people,” he said. “I said I don’t like what black people do.”
He later added, “Wouldn’t it be fair to say that the prosecution hates me since they are the ones trying to give me the death penalty? You could say, ‘Of course they hate you. Everyone hates you. They have good reason to hate you.’ I’m not denying that. My point is that anyone who hates anything, in their mind, has a good reason.”
In a 2015 manifesto seized by authorities, written after his arrest, Roof offered no apology for the murders.
“I would like to make it crystal clear I do not regret what I did,” he wrote, according to the New York Times. “I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.”