Dylann Roof sentenced to death for killing 9 black church members; 1st to get death penalty for federal hate crimes

MGN / Charleston County Sheriff's Office

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - A federal jury has sentenced Dylann Roof to death for killing nine black church members in a racially motivated attack in 2015.

4:45 p.m. (all times local)

Roof, who is white, faced either life in prison or execution for the slayings on June 17, 2015. The Justice Department said he is the first person to get the death penalty for federal hate crimes.

The jury reached a decision after about three hours of deliberations.

Roof was convicted last month of all 33 federal charges against him. During sentencing, he represented himself and told jurors he didn't have a mental illness. But he didn't offer any remorse or ask that his life be spared.

Roof told FBI agents he wanted to bring back segregation or perhaps start a race war with the slayings.


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Dylann Roof's relatives said they will always love him and are praying for the families of the nine slain church members.

In a statement emailed to reporters after Roof was sentenced to death, his relatives said they will "struggle as long as we live" to understand why he killed nine black parishioners during a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church.

Roof's relatives, who have not returned to court since the start of his trial, "express the grief we feel for the victims of his crimes, and our sympathy to the many families he has hurt."

In another statement, Roof's legal advisers said they are sorry that "despite our best efforts, the legal proceedings have shed so little light on the reasons for this tragedy," a veiled referenced to the mental issues they wanted to present during sentencing. Roof acted as his own attorney and said he wasn't mentally ill.

Father John Parker, an Eastern Orthodox minister described as Roof's spiritual adviser, said in a statement he denounces "Dylann's unspeakable crimes" and prays for the victims.

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