Dylann Roof, who was convicted last month of the 2015 slayings of nine churchgoers during a prayer service at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, was handed the death penalty for his racially-charged hate crime — one he said in a jailhouse journal he did not regret, and wasn’t sorry for.
“I still feel like I had to do it,” Roof said during closing arguments on Tuesday.
The avowed white supremacist was found guilty on all 33 federal charges on December 15, which included hate crimes that resulted in death and obstruction of religious freedom that resulted in death. Roof appealed to United States District Court Judge Richard Gurgel to represent himself in the sentencing portion of his trial.
Throughout the sentencing, Roof was adamant that the jury not consider any arguments that he was mentally ill, even if such a consideration may have saved his life. Roof roundly rejects the notion of mental incompetence as a legal defense and the discipline of psychiatry as a whole, dismissing it in his jailhouse journals as a “Jewish invention and does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they don’t.”
Roof displayed no remorse during the course of the trial and the sentencing, presenting himself as righteous in his racial beliefs and suggesting that those involved in the proceedings were ignorant to conditions that, in his view, seemed to justify his crime.
“Anyone, including the prosecution, who thinks that I’m filled with hatred has no idea what real hate is,” Roof reportedly said during closing statements. “They don’t know anything about me. They don’t know what real hatred looks like. They think they do, but they don’t really.”
The jurors deliberated for three hours before voting unanimously to condemn Roof to death, a requirement for a death sentence — one that Roof was aware of.
“From what I’ve been told, I have a right to ask for forgiveness on my sentence, but I’m not sure what good that will do anyway,” Roof said on Tuesday. “But what I do know is that only one of you has to disagree with the other jurors.”
Judge Gerger will hand Roof his official sentencing on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. Roof’s execution will be only the fourth federal death sentence completed in the United States since 1988. Roof still faces a state murder trial in South Carolina, which a circuit judge delayed indefinitely last week due to the ongoing federal proceedings.