A federal appeals court has upheld the death sentence of a man who killed nine people in a 2015 shooting at a South Carolina church.
Dylann Roof entered Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015, sat through most of a Bible study, and then murdered nine black people in a hail of bullets.
In 2017, he was sentenced to death on federal hate crime charges and given a life sentence for each victim. He appealed his death sentence in May.
Roof’s attorneys argued that he was mentally impaired and should not have been allowed to represent himself during sentencing, according to the AP.
But on Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that argument.
If you remember Dylann Roof’s name today, I ask you to also remember the names of his 9 victims.
Cynthia Graham Hurd
Ethel Lee Lance
Myra Thompson pic.twitter.com/KAdJ19Y701
— Megan (@musingsofmegan) August 25, 2021
“Dylann Roof murdered African Americans at their church, during their Bible-study and worship. They had welcomed him. He slaughtered them,” the panel wrote in a 149-page opinion.
“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.”
The judges noted that Roof “showed barely a hint of remorse” for his crime.
“He used the internet to plan his attack and, using his crimes as a catalyst, intended to foment racial division and strife across America. He wanted the widest possible publicity for his atrocities, and, to that end, he purposefully left one person alive in the church ‘to tell the story.’”
Should the death penalty be abolished?
“No cold record or careful parsing of statutes and precedents can capture the full horror of what Roof did. His crimes qualify him for the harshest penalty that a just society can impose,” the judges wrote.
“We have reached that conclusion not as a product of emotion but through a thorough analytical process, which we have endeavored to detail here. In this, we have followed the example of the trial judge, who managed this difficult case with skill and compassion for all concerned, including Roof himself,” the ruling concluded.
Because all of the judges sitting on the 4th Circuit Court recused themselves from the case, the ruling was issued by judges on other appellate courts.
Nathan Williams of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina called the ruling a victory for justice, according to WCBD-TV.
“The Mother Emmanuel AME Church massacre committed by the hate-filled murderer [Dylann] Roof is one of the worst events in not only South Carolina’s history but also our nation’s history,” he said.
“Our office is grateful for the decision of the court. … Moreover, our office is grateful that justice will be served for the victims, survivors and their families.”