Judge formally sentences Dylann Roof to death

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- The Latest on the federal sentencing trial of convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof (all times local):

A judge has formally sentenced Dylann Roof to death for killing nine black worshippers in a racist massacre at a Charleston church.

U.S. Judge Richard Gergel handed down the sentence Wednesday at a hearing to affirm the jury's decision on the death penalty for the 22-year-old avowed white supremacist. Gergel couldn't change the jury's decision.

Roof showed no reaction as he has through almost all of the federal hate crimes trial. He also did not choose to speak Wednesday and kept a blank face as Gergel sentenced him.

More than 30 family members of the victims at Emanuel AME church spoke during the hearing. Some were angry, others forgiving. But they all said Roof failed at his goal to further divide blacks and whites.

------

The brother of a woman slain by Dylann Roof at Emanuel AME Church says jurors made the right decision in sentencing him to death.

Malcolm Graham told The Associated Press by phone the death sentence for Roof "sends a strong message" that hate crimes will not be tolerated.

Graham said there is "no room in a civilized society for hatred, racism and discrimination."

Graham's sister Cynthia Hurd was among nine people Roof gunned down one June night in 2015 during a Bible study session at the historic black church in downtown Charleston.

Jurors deliberated about three hours before sentencing Roof to death. He is the first person sentenced to death for federal hate crimes.

------

4:45 p.m.

A federal jury has sentenced Dylann Roof to death for killing nine black church members in a racially motivated attack in 2015.

Roof, who is white, faced either life in prison or execution for the slayings on June 17, 2015. The Justice Department says he is the first person to get the death penalty for federal hate crimes.

The jury reached a decision after about three hours of deliberations.

Roof was convicted last month of all 33 federal charges against him. During sentencing, he represented himself and told jurors he didn't have a mental illness. But he didn't offer any remorse or ask that his life be spared.

Roof told FBI agents he wanted to bring back segregation or perhaps start a race war with the slayings.

Family of the nine victims spoke out on Tuesday after the sentencing was announced: 

Mobile users click here for embedded content 

------

4:30 p.m.

A jury deliberating whether Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof should be sentenced to life in prison or death has reached a verdict.

It will be announced soon. Roof was convicted of killing nine black church members in a racially motivated attack on June 17, 2015.

The jury reached a decision after about three hours of deliberations.

Roof, who is white, was convicted last month of all 33 federal charges against him. During the penalty phase of the trial, he represented himself and told jurors he didn't have a mental illness, but he didn't offer any remorse or ask that his life be spared.

In a lengthy confession, Roof told FBI agents he wanted to bring back segregation or perhaps start a race war with the slayings.

------

3:40 p.m.

Jurors deliberating whether Dylann Roof should get death or life in prison have raised several questions about his potential imprisonment.

The jury on Tuesday asked U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel for clarification on some of the mitigating factors they're being asked to consider, including if Roof could safely be confined if he were sentenced to life in prison. The judge told jurors to re-read the instructions he provided them to figure out what that means.

Jurors also asked to re-watch a speech by the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was one of the nine people Roof killed during a Bible study in 2015.

So far, jurors have deliberated Roof's sentence more than two hours.

Roof didn't ask jurors to spare his life and told them he still feels he "had to" kill the nine Bible study attendees at Emanuel AME Church.

------

12:25 p.m.

Dylann Roof is telling jurors at his sentencing that he has the right to ask them for life in prison instead of execution but he says he is not sure "what good that would do anyway."

Roof did not ask the jury to spare his life for killing nine black church members in June 2015. He gave a closing argument of about five minutes on Tuesday. At one point, he said he felt like he had to commit the slayings, and "I still feel like I had to do it."

Prosecutors say he should be executed because he had a "hateful heart" and the young white man targeted the black church in a racially motivated attack.

Jurors will begin deliberations Tuesday afternoon.

------

11:50 a.m.

Prosecutors have made their final case as to why they believe Dylann Roof should die for slaying nine people during a Bible study.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson told jurors on Tuesday that Roof's crimes more than meet the standards they'll consider for a possible death sentence.

Richardson says the way Roof mercilessly gunned down the black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church, coupled with his lack of remorse, mean he should receive the harshest sentence available.

Richardson also reviewed emotional testimony jurors have heard about each of the victims and the voids created by their deaths.

Roof is representing himself. The government will have the opportunity to give a rebuttal to anything Roof says, if he gives a closing argument.

------

11:15 a.m.

Prosecutors are explaining why they think Dylann Roof deserves to be executed for his crimes.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson is laying out the standards that must be met for a death sentence, including that the defendant must be at least 18 years old and intentionally committed the crimes. There are also statutory aggravating factors, including killing "vulnerable" victims.

Richardson is giving the federal government's closing argument during sentencing for Roof for the June 2015 slaughter at Emanuel AME Church. The prosecutor has reviewed testimony they heard about each of the nine victims, as well as Roof's preparations for the shootings and the entrenchment of his hatred toward black people.

Roof is representing himself and has the chance to give a closing of his own after prosecutors finish.

------

10:20 a.m.

Jurors are getting a review of the emotional testimony given by friends and relatives of the nine people gunned down by Dylann Roof during a June 2015 Bible study.

One by one, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson is reminding the jury of the voids created by the deaths of the people Roof killed. Relatives of the slain gave four days of testimony about what each person meant to them and how a future without them seems bleak.

Richardson is giving the government's closing argument in its pursuit of the death penalty against Roof. Jurors are expected to begin their deliberations later Tuesday.

------

10:05 a.m.

Prosecutors have begun closing arguments in Dylann Roof's sentencing by reminding jurors about the bloody crime at a Charleston church where Roof killed nine people.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson recalled testimony from one of the massacre's survivors, who said Roof said he'd leave her alive so she could tell the world what happened.

He reminded jurors of how survivor Felicia Sanders saw her son Tywanza slain as he lay next to her, his blood seeping out onto the floor.

Richardson has said he'll likely take around two hours to close out the government's argument as to why Roof should be executed for his crimes in 2015. Jurors are expected to begin their deliberations later Tuesday.

------

9:45 a.m.

Prosecutors say they will take about two hours to close out their argument as to why Dylann Roof should be executed for slaying nine people at a South Carolina church.

Closing arguments are being made Tuesday morning in Roof's federal sentencing trial. This is the last chance for prosecutors to make their case as to why he should be sentenced to death over life in prison.

Federal prosecutors wrapped up their case Monday with relatives of the youngest victim to die in the June 2015 attack on a Bible study group at Emanuel AME Church. Roof is representing himself and introduced no witnesses or testimony in his own defense.

Jurors will get the case after closings and their charge instructions.

------

3:20 a.m.

The fate of convicted church shooter Dylann Roof will soon rest in the hands of the 12 jurors considering sentencing in his federal trial.

The same jury last month convicted Roof of 33 federal crimes, including hate crimes and obstruction of religion, in his June 2015 assault on a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church that left nine black parishioners dead.

After a holiday break, jurors returned last week to court, where prosecutors laid out their case for why Roof should be executed.

Jurors will get the case after closing arguments Tuesday morning from prosecutors and perhaps Roof, who has represented himself during sentencing but has put up no fight for his life. The 22-year-old didn't call any witnesses, present any evidence and so far has not asked for mercy.

Up Next:


  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories you may be interested in - includes advertiser stories