Dylann Roof, the man found guilty of killing nine members of a black church in South Carolina, has been sentenced to death. Roof, who was defending himself in court, did not ask for his life to be spared.
Dylann Roof, found guilty of shooting nine members of a black church in South Carolina in 2015, was sentenced to death by a federal jury on Tuesday.
The decision made Roof the first person to receive the death penalty for federal hate crimes.
In December, Roof was found guilty of 33 federal charges, including the aforementioned federal hate crimes as well as murder, stemming from his shooting spree on June 17, 2015. An avowed white supremacist, Roof opened fire during a Bible study at the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Roof, 22, did not ask the jury to spare his life during the sentencing phase. Representing himself, Roof said, "I have a right to ask you to give me a life sentence, but I'm not sure what good that will do anyone.
"I still feel like I had to do it," he said during his closing argument of the sentencing phase. His face remained relatively impassive as the decision was read.
Victim's brother: Strong message against hate crime
US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said capital punishment would hold Roof accountable for his crimes, but that no verdict could bring back the nine churchgoers who died at Roof's "callous hand."
The defendant's family emailed a statement to reporters saying they would "struggle as long as we live" to understand Roof's actions.
They also voiced their condolences for the victims' loved ones, saying they would like to "express the grief we feel for the victims of his crimes, and our sympathy to the many families he has hurt."
Malcolm Graham, the brother of victim Cynthia Hurd, told The Associated Press that he thought the punishment would send "a strong message" that hate crimes could not be tolerated in the US. There is "no room in a civilized society for hatred, racism and discrimination," he said.
US District Judge Richard Gergel will officially read the sentence on Wednesday morning. Relatives of the victims will be allowed to speak at the hearing.
kbd, es/cmk (AP, Reuters)