After about two hours of deliberations, a South Carolina jury found Dylann Roof guilty on all 33 counts for fatally shooting nine parishioners of a historically black church last year.
Jurors will decide whether the 22-year-old, convicted of federal hate crimes, will get the death penalty when sentencing begins Jan. 3. Roof, who is white, fatally shot nine black members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015.
Jurors watched the self-declared white supremacist’s on-camera confession Monday, in which he conceded to killing the bible study attendees at the Emanuel AME church, also known as Mother Emanuel, Reuters reported.
The same jury will decide whether Roof should receive the death penalty or life in prison without parole, The New York Times reported. Roof plans to represent himself during the proceedings.
Dylann Roof stood, hands at his sides and his face emotionless, as the clerk read "guilty" aloud 33 times. Guilty of all charges.
— Alan Blinder (@alanblinder) December 15, 2016
“The parishioners could not have seen the hatred in his heart,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams told the jury during closing statements Thursday. “He sat and waited until they were at their most vulnerable.”
Williams argued Roof “needs to be held accountable for every bullet.”
Defense attorney David Bruck pushed jurors to consider Roof’s mental state, saying he was an impressionable loner, reported WYFF 4, a local station. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled that Roof’s mental state should only be discussed during the sentencing phase of the trial.
Jurors heard witness testimony this week from victims’ family members, saw photos of the victims’ bodies, heard Roof’s racist sentiments read aloud and watched footage of Roof laughing following the attack.
The jury, made up of nine white and three black jurors, could watch as little or as much of the entirety of Roof’s two-hour confession as they wanted at Gergel’s request, WYFF 4 reported.
About an hour into their deliberations today, the jury sent a note to Gergel asking to listen to Roof discussing how many people he killed in the confession. He believed he killed five and was surprised when told the number was nine.