According to a recent report by The Guardian, 22 year-old Dylann Roof, who was convicted last month for the murder of nine black church-goers in Charleston, South Carolina, has been sentenced to death. Roof is the first person in American history to face execution for a federal hate crime conviction.
Of the 12 people Roof targeted in his despicable attack on members of the historic Emanuel AME church in Charleston, only three survived.
Assistant US attorney Jay Richardson said during the trial that the victims were “God-fearing church members who opened the door for a white stranger with a smile. They welcomed a 13th person that night,” Richardson said during his closing argument, “with a kind word, a Bible, a handout and a chair. He had come with a hateful heart and a Glock .45.”
Roof’s defense team, which he refused to allow to represent him during his sentencing trial, released a statement regarding the decision. “Today’s sentencing decision means that this case will not be over for a very long time. We are sorry that, despite our best efforts, the legal proceedings have shed so little light on the reasons for this tragedy.”
Roof’s family also released a public statement, in which they said, “We will struggle as long as we live to understand why he committed this horrible attack, which caused so much pain to so many good people. We wish to express the grief we feel for the victims of his crimes, and our sympathy to the many families he has hurt. We continue to pray for the Emanuel AME families and the Charleston community.”
Roof, who represented himself in his sentencing trial, did not question any witnesses nor explain his actions in his closing argument to jurors. However, in his FBI confession, Roof stated that he hoped to bring back segregation or start a race war.
Dylann Roof is the first person to be sentenced to death since Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in 2015.