Dylann Roof, the convicted shooter of 12 victims—all African Americans—in the Emanuel AME Church massacre in Charleston, SC, was sentenced to death on Tuesday.
The unremorseful 22 year-old and white supremacist maintained throughout his trial that he “had to” carry out the murders in order to save the white race. Acting as his own attorney, he insisted that he had no mental health issues and has always admitted to the shootings. He didn’t call any witnesses, present any evidence and had not asked for mercy.
Jurors began deliberating Tuesday over whether Roof, 22, should get the death penalty or life in prison for his crimes. They reached a unanimous decision in favor of the death penalty two hours later.
After the decision, Roof’s family released a statement:
“We will always love Dylann. We will struggle as long as we live to understand why he committed this horrible attack, which caused so much pain to so many good people. . .We continue to pray for the Emanuel AME families and the Charleston community.”
Roof has asked the judge to appoint a new defense team to file motion for retrial.
Formal sentencing was held Wednesday morning, where families of the victims had an opportunity to speak openly in court.
Jennifer Pinckney, wife of the slain Emanuel AME pastor and state Sen. Clemanta Pinckney, said she hid underneath a desk with her daughters as the shots rang out. “I sat in front of the girls, and I basically told them that something had happened,” she said. “I think that that’s the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do.”
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott thanked jurors for their service in a statement posted to Twitter, and said Roof was “rightly sentenced to death.”