Court upholds death sentence for white supremacist who murdered nine at South Carolina black church

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld the conviction and death sentence of Dylann Roof, a young, self-confessed white supremacist who murdered nine members of a South Carolina black congregation in 2015, Voice of America (VOA) reports. The unanimous three-judge panel rejected arguments that Roof should have been ruled incompetent to stand trial for the killings at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

Roof was 21 years old when he entered the Mother Emanuel church on June 17, 2015, and joined a Bible Study, NBC News reports. According to the Court, “The parishioners welcomed Roof, handing him a Bible and a study sheet. For the next 45 minutes, Roof worshipped with the parishioners. They stood and shut their eyes for closing prayer.”

“Roof then took out his gun and started shooting,” the Court said. “Parishioners dove under tables to hide. Roof continued shooting, reloading multiple times. After firing approximately 74 rounds, Roof reached one parishioner who was praying aloud. He told her to ‘shut up’ and then asked if he had shot her yet.”

Convicted in 2017, Roof became the first person in the US to be sentenced to death for a federal hate crime, VOA reports. His attorneys argued at his appeal that the trial court had wrongfully allowed Roof to represent himself at the hearing for sentencing. Jurors were also prevented by Roof from hearing evidence about his mental health, the attorneys said.

Roof was “under the delusion,” his attorneys added, that “he would be rescued from prison by white-nationalists — but only, bizarrely, if he kept his mental impairments out of the public record.”

Rejecting the defense arguments, the court of appeals said Roof had been competent to stand trial. “Dylann Roof murdered African Americans at their church, during their Bible-study and worship,” the Court said. “They had welcomed him. He slaughtered them. He did so with the express intent of terrorizing not just his immediate victims at the historically important Mother Emanuel Church, but as many similar people as would hear of the mass murder.”

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