Admitted white nationalist Dylann Roof was quickly convicted by a SC federal jury on Thursday of all 33 hate-crime charges against him in the Charleston church massacre trial. He told the Federal Bureau of Investigation men he was surprised he was able to kill as many people as he did with his.45-caliber Glock pistol.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams said Thursday in his closing argument that jurors should have no doubt about Roof's guilt.
"The parishioners could not have seen the hatred in his heart", Williams said.
"I'm going to leave you here to tell the story", Roof said, Sheppard testified.
The defence did not call any witnesses after the trial judge blocked them from presenting evidence of Roof's mental state during the guilt phase of the trial. Roof is charged with 33 federal offenses, including hate crime charges for allegedly targeting his victims on the basis of their race and religion. Jurors were sent back to their room to begin deliberations about 1:15 p.m. EST.
In this case, that the jurors will have heavenly guidance as the next phase of the trial begins in January, and they decide whether Mr. Roof should be sentenced to death or spend the rest of his life in prison.
Roof's guilt in the killings was essentially uncontested; prosecutors showed the jury Roof's interview with Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in which he calmly confessed to the killings and complained that he was "worn out" after pumping more than 60 bullets into his victims. Some family members of victims dabbed their eyes with tissues, and jurors appeared emotional when Williams, after apologizing to them, showed crime scene photos of each person killed alongside a small picture of them while alive. One relative groaned and rushed from the courtroom as an image of Tywanza Sanders was shown, his arm outstretched toward Susie Jackson as they lie dead on the church floor. Halfway through, however, they asked to rewatch Roof's confession tape.
Roof said he carried out the massacre after studying "black on white crime" online, and chose a church because his victims would be unlikely to threaten him.
The prosecutor said the good of all those faithful churchgoers prevailed over Roof's hatred. We will not ever be able to fully thank you for showing us all the true meaning of righteousness, but what we can do is continue working every single day to ensure that the legacy of the Emanuel 9 lives on forever. "But he does not get to choose who they were", Williams said.
Williams argued Roof "needs to be held accountable for every bullet".
Roof's defense attorney, David Bruck, attempted to simplify the case in his summation - and paint the 22-year-old as a troubled young loner who had a misguided view of society and had "nowhere to go" - a defense position that leaned slightly toward an insanity defense, although psychological experts declared him mentally competent for trial.
During the trial, Bruck put no witnesses on the stand.
It remains to be decided whether Roof will face life imprisonment or the death penalty. Gergel says he will check with Roof one more time before testimony starts.
Roof answered a number of questions from U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel with a simple "yes" Thursday afternoon, moving his high-powered defense team to advisers.
Federal prosecutors countered that such arguments were mere distractions from the brutal murders of victims that ranged in age from 26 to 87, noting how the eldest of the victims, who walked with a cane, was shot at least ten times. Roof was also found guilty of three counts of violating the Hate Crime Act involving an attempt to kill, one for each of the three survivors. In an attempt to demonstrate that Roof's racial hatred ran deep, prosecutors also introduced a range of evidence - from "boxes of bullets to a homemade [Ku Klux] Klan hood and a stuffed bunny toy wrapped in little Confederate flags", the Post and Courier reported.