Jury finds Dylann Roof guilty of all charges related to Charleston church massacre
CHARLESTON, S.C. – A jury has found Dylann Roof guilty of all 33 federal charges he faced after last year’s massacre at a historically black church in South Carolina.
Deliberations began Thursday afternoon in the Dylann Roof murder trial after attorneys made closing arguments.
Shortly after deliberations began, the jury asked to again watch the video in which Roof confessed to two FBI agents. Specifically, the jury wanted to see the portion where Roof was unsure of how many people he had killed.
Roof, 22, a self-declared white supremacist, has admitted to last year’s killings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
“He needs to be held accountable for every bullet,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams told the jury, emphasizing what he said was the depth of Roof’s hatred.
“The parishioners could not have seen the hatred in his heart,” Williams said. “He sat and waited until they were at their most vulnerable.”
Family members of the victims sobbed as Williams spoke.
Defense attorney David Bruck said Williams was correct about the events.
“Why, why did Dylann Roof do this?” Bruck said. “What was the explanation?”
Bruck asked the jury to “look beyond the surface” and to ask, “Is there something more to this story?”
The closing arguments come after a week of dramatic arguments and chilling testimony about the June 2015 massacre.
Prosecutors presented Roof as a “cold and calculating” killer. Jurors saw a witness, whose son was killed, sobbing on the stand. They heard an FBI agent read a series of Roof’s racist writings. And they watched a video of Roof laughing after admitting he killed the victims.
The defense did not call any witnesses, and Roof did not testify.
After just a few hours, the jury came back with their decision. He was found guilty of all charges including murder, violating the Hate Crime Act resulting in death, use of a firearm to commit murder, obstruction of exercise of religion resulting in death, violating the Hate Crime Act involving an attempt to kill, obstruction of exercise of religion involving an attempt to kill and use of a dangerous weapon.
In the next phase of the trial, which is set to begin in January, jurors will decide whether they believe Roof should be sentenced to death or spend the rest of his life in prison.