CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD/AP) – A federal jury says Dylann Roof, the man charged with the slaying of nine parishioners at Emanual AME Church on June 17, 2015, is guilty.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel handed the case to the group of 12 at 1:15 p.m. on Thursday, December 15. They deliberated for about two hours.
Jurors heard from witnesses who testified Roof made multiple trips to Charleston in the months before the June 2015 attack at Emanuel AME Church. They also heard from two survivors. Roof’s attorneys called no witnesses.
Prosecutors said in their closing arguments Roof was filled with hate and has already confessed to the FBI to his role in the shootings. Defense attorneys portrayed Roof as a suicidal loner who never fully grasped the severity of what he has done.
One of the survivors, Felicia Sanders, says she isn’t ready to say whether Dylann Roof should face the death penalty or not.
She said after Roof was found guilty Thursday that he showed he was a coward by refusing to look at her as she testified.
Sanders says Roof told FBI agents in his confession he had no friends, but the nine people he shot would have befriended him if he had given them the chance.
Sanders says she honors her friends by always smiling like they did.
The jury of two black women, one black man, eight white women and one white man will reconvene January 3 to tasked with determining if he should be sentenced to death or life in prison.
Roof faced 33 separate federal charges, including hate crimes and obstruction of religion charges for each of the nine people killed and three who survived the June 2015 massacre.
Roof just stared ahead as the verdict was read, much as he has throughout the trial.
Governor Nikki Haley issued the following 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.
U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) reacts to the final verdict reached in the murder trial involving the shooting at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston:
While today’s verdict will not bring back those lost, it does ensure that the families of those murdered and injured at Mother Emanuel will see justice come to the evil man who perpetrated this heinous crime. I know it was not easy for them to testify and to sit and watch as photos and evidence from June 17, 2015 were shown in court.
As the killer now awaits sentencing, I want the families of those lost that day to know one thing: we are all still with you. While this chapter is now closed, the rest of this book has yet to be written. Your strength and courage has changed Charleston, South Carolina, and our nation forever. We will not ever be able to fully thank you for showing us all the true meaning of righteousness, but what we can do is continue working every single day to ensure that the legacy of the Emanuel 9 lives on forever.
We know that love can overcome hate, and that united we are greater than the sum of our parts. Because although a racist madman attempted to destroy us, and we will never forget the scars he gave us, what he really ended up doing was showing us what we must do every single day. Believe in love. Trust in each other. And be resolute in our determination to move forward together.
God Bless the Emanuel 9, their families, Charleston and the state of South Carolina.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made this statement on the guilty verdicts delivered in the trial of Dylann Roof:
This is the first and significant step in rendering justice for the nine victims who were murdered as they worshipped at Mother Emanuel AME Church. I know nothing can ever completely take away their pain, but I do hope the verdicts will provide some small measure of comfort to the families of the victims.
If there was ever a justified guilty verdict, this was this case.
Representative Mark Sanford released the following statement after this afternoon’s decision:
My prayers continue to go out to the families affected, and I think each one of us needs to find a way to send them a prayer here during the Christmas Season. These families have shown heavenly grace and inspired people from here at home and around the world to ask “how we might then live,” in light of the example of grace they have indeed walked.
It will be important that each one of us continues to pray. In this case, that the jurors will have heavenly guidance as the next phase of the trial begins in January, and they decide whether Mr. Roof should be sentenced to death or spend the rest of his life in prison.
For now, though, we should all be thankful that there is peace in Charleston, that our legal processes have worked, and that we are on the road to justice being done in the wake of unimaginable tragedy.