A federal jury in Charleston, South Carolina has sentenced Dylann Roof, 22, to execution for the horrific crime of murdering nine in an assault on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of oldest and most historically rich A.M.E. congregations in the United States. As reported by MSNBC, Roof is the first person charged with hate crimes to get the federal death penalty.
According to Alex Blinder and Kevin Sack at the New York Times:
The jury of nine whites and three blacks, who last month found Mr. Roof guilty of 33 counts for the attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, S.C., returned their unanimous verdict after about three hours of deliberations in the penalty phase of a heart-rending and often legally confounding trial. He showed no emotion as the verdict was read.
The guilt of Mr. Roof, who coolly confessed to the killings and then justified them without remorse in a jailhouse manifesto, was never in serious doubt during the first phase of the proceedings in Federal District Court in December. By the time the jurors began their deliberations on his sentence, it seemed inevitable that they would lean toward death, not only because of the heinous nature of the crimes but because Mr. Roof, 22, insisted on denying any psychological incapacity, called no witnesses, presented no evidence in his defense and mostly sidelined his court-appointed lawyers.
Since the massacre on June 17, 2015, Roof has shown no remorse for his crimes, telling the jury in his closing arguments that “In my confession to the FBI I told them that I had to do it, and obviously that’s not really true. ... I didn’t have to do anything...But what I meant when I said that was, I felt like I had to do it, and I still do feel like I had to do it.”
Despite being found guilty on counts of hate crimes resulting in death and sentenced to federal execution, criminal justice journalist Maurice Chamma reminds us at the Marshall Project that the federal government is currently unable to carry out executions:
Since 2010, the federal government has been unable to carry out executions, creating a de facto moratorium, and the reason may read as familiar; the federal government has had the same problems finding lethal injection drugs as many state prison systems. They still have not formalized a new lethal injection protocol.
In addition to any hold-up caused by reevaluating protocol, Roof is also likely to appeal the jury’s decision.