A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence of Dylann Roof, the white man convicted of the mass murder of black members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Roof, 27, had appealed his conviction to the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which concluded: “No cold case or careful analysis of laws and precedent can capture all the horror of what Roof did. His crimes qualify him for the most severe sentence there is. a just society can impose.
The court recounted the crimes of Roof, who, as an admitted white supremacist at the age of 21, entered the church on June 17, 2015 and joined a Bible study group.
“The parishioners greeted Roof with a Bible and a study sheet,” the court said. “For the next 45 minutes, Roof worshiped with the parishioners. They stood up and closed their eyes for the closing prayer.
“Roof then pulled out his gun and started shooting,” the court said. “The parishioners dived under the tables to hide. Roof continued to fire and reload several times. After firing about 74 shots, Roof reached a parishioner who was praying aloud. He told her to “shut up” and then asked if he had ever shot her. “
Roof told him, “I’ll leave you here to tell the story,” according to the court record.
Roof killed nine people: Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr. and Rev. Myra Thompson.
A few days later, in a eulogy for Pinckney, President Barack Obama described the victims as “good people, honest people, people who fear God.” People so full of life and so full of kindness, people who ran the race, persevered. Faith. “
He led the audience into the arena of the College of Charleston in a performance of “Amazing Grace”.
Roof, who was convicted of murder and other counts, including nine counts of racially-motivated hate crimes resulting in death, was sentenced to death in early 2017.
Pending defense attorneys tried unsuccessfully to question his sanity for the case. Roof said at the time that arguing for jail time was not worth it.
In his appeal, Roof challenged his fitness to stand trial, questioned whether he should have been allowed to represent himself during the sanction phase, alleged that errors in the sanction phase were unfair and said some of the laws on the prosecution could have been unconstitutional, the court said.
The appeal judges disagreed, saying Roof’s argument was “strained”.
Roof remains on death row in federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. Attorney General Merrick Garland last month declared a moratorium on federal executions while the Department of Justice conducts a review.