Having been found guilty of all 33 charges following the Charleston church shooting, a jury unanimously sentenced him to death yesterday. Roof is the first person to be sentenced to death under federal hate crime statutes.
Roof was accused (and now convicted) of killing nine people with a semi-automatic handgun at a bible study class in a predominantly African American church in Charleston, South Carolina. Following a short manhunt he was captured by local law enforcement. During subsequent questioning he revealed that he had intended to start a race war between black and white Americans.
Roof represented himself during his trial after dismissing his court-appointed attorneys. He called no witnesses and made no arguments in an attempt to save his life, saying only, “I still feel like I had to do it. I have the right to ask you to give me a life sentence, but I’m not sure what good it would do anyway”.
Capital punishment is only rarely meted out in federal cases, in part because violent crimes more typically are tried under state laws.
Even if Roof declines to appeal, it will likely take years before the death sentence is carried out.