Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Dylann Roof guilty in Charleston church shooting

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Dylann Roof guilty in Charleston church shooting

    CHARLESTON, S.C. — A federal jury took a little less than two hours Thursday to find Dylann Roof, the self-admitted white supremacist who shot to death nine black parishioners at a Charleston church, guilty of all 33 counts lodged against him.

    Roof stood silent and unmoving expect for the fingers of his right hand, which fidgeted at times as a court official read each count. Several people in the courtroom who lost loved ones in the June 2015 attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church nodded silently with each “guilty.”

    Among them was Felicia Sanders, a survivor of the attack, who held her 11-year-old granddaughter to near-suffocation to keep the child still in a hail of gunfire. The girl survived, but Roof murdered two others in Sanders’ family, her 26-year-old son, Tywanza Sanders, and her 87-year-old aunt, Susie Jackson.

    Afterward, she called the verdict “music to my ears,” adding, “I wasn’t expecting anything less.”

    A few shed tears as the word “guilty” was repeated again and again in a verdict that holds Roof responsible not only for the murders, but also for hate crimes and obstruction of religion.

    'There's so many people dead': Charleston church member recounts 911 call

    The 22-year-old will next face a penalty phase, scheduled to begin in January, where the same panel will determine whether he should be sentenced to life imprisonment or execution. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys have declined to comment.

    Roof has elected to represent himself at sentencing, a move that strips his defense team of its decision-making powers. Court statements hint that the rift is over evidence that Roof suffers from an unnamed mental defect, a position his attorneys have taken for months in court documents.

    After jurors were dismissed, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel again called Roof’s desire to represent himself a “bad decision” and asked him a series of questions confirming he wants to maintain that course.

    Roof, answering only “yes” or “correct,” confirmed his decision, though Gergel said he would allow Roof to change his mind until jurors reconvene.

    “I will do that up to January 3rd,” Gergel said. “Whatever decision you made on that day, we are proceeding.”

    On Thurday, jurors heard closings statements offered by prosecutors and Roof’s lead defense attorney.

    Prosecutor Nathan Williams and defense attorney David Bruck agreed on the most important point before jurors. Both said Roof is guilty of the attack at Mother Emanuel.

    But otherwise, the men were a study in contrasts. Williams, 43, was deliberate, his voice sometimes rising with fervor, pointing to Roof as he described the defendant’s racism and cowardice. Roof did not return the prosecutor’s gaze.

    Throughout six days of testimony, Roof rarely, if ever, turned his head to look at a witness or evidence, instead staring straight ahead or at the table before him, a demeanor that raises questions about what, if any, kind of case he will offer.

    “What I am going to talk about is the vastness of this defendant’s hatred,” Williams told jurors, repeating that final word throughout his statement.

    In 50 minutes, he offered a summary of the voluminous case against Roof, honing in on the months of planning that included purchasing a gun, stockpiling ammunition and writing a manifesto of racist vitriol.

    He pointed out too, that Roof penned a list of predominately black churches, Mother Emanuel listed at the top of one.

    “When you see that list of churches, you see the vastness of his hatred,” Williams said, and offered a chilling video showing Roof shooting his Glock pistol, its aim angled down to a phonebook on the ground.

    Roof’s attorney, the 67-year-old Bruck, perpetually described as soft-spoken, sometimes dropped into a quiet that, to spectators in the courtroom gallery, was swallowed by the rustle of notebook paper or a creaking wooden bench.

    To William’s concrete motive of hatred, Bruck offered something more nebulous in an address that coaxed jurors to consider the future, a sentencing phase where life imprisonment is an option.

    Bruck walked and sometimes crossed a fine line of trial rules, bringing objections from prosecutors, in a closing intended to lead them to believe what he believes — evidenced by his failed attempts to offer mental health experts as witnesses — that Roof suffers from a mental impairment.

    “He tells the FBI he’s not delusional,” Bruck said, also referencing the video-recorded confession. “If someone says that, common sense tells you he might be delusional.”

    He pointed to Roof’s confusion on that tape, one in which he was unsure of the month and the number of victims, as well as a racist paradigm that seemed to form suddenly with an Internet search for “black on white crime.”

    “What happened in that instant is he acquired a magic decoder ring to explain every bad thing on the Earth,” Bruck said.

    Testimony indicates Charleston church attack was long-planned

    Jurors seemed to at least consider Bruck’s statements. They asked a single question, one that came an hour into deliberation. They asked to see the video in which Roof expressed surprise when FBI agents told him nine people were dead. Roof thought the victims numbered five, maybe four.

    Bruck concluded by asking jurors to "look beyond the surface," asking, "Is there something more to the story?"

    The shootings horrified South Carolinians and the nation, and President Obama eulogized the victims, praising their families for their grace in forgiving Roof, as a few did during Roof’s bond hearing shortly after his capture.

    The Mother Emanuel shootings prompted a dialogue about race relations, and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement, "It is my hope that the survivors, the families, and the people of South Carolina can find some peace in the fact that justice has been served."

    South Carolina voted to lower the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds in response to the crime.

    It was a flag that Roof had visited when it was flying at the Statehouse. It appeared among the many photos he took of historical sites around the state, many of them steeped in a history that harkens to slavery or racial tensions.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/n...oter/95474302/

    Thoughts?
Working...
X