The white supremacist accused of killing nine African-Americans in a church shooting in South Carolina’s Charleston in June 2015 was found guilty of all 33 federal charges against him on Thursday, Reuters reported. The jury in the case against Dylann Roof declared him guilty on charges including hate crimes resulting in death, the obstruction of religion and firearms violations.
During closing arguments, prosecutors in the case said racial hatred had motivated Roof to kill the parishioners who attended the proceedings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Assistant United States Attorney Nathan Williams said Roof’s hatred was “cold and calculated”. However, Roof’s lawyers suggested he was delusional and asked the jurors to consider the factors that had led him to commit the killings.
The verdict was welcomed by the members of the victims’ families. “It gives us an opportunity to start the healing process,” said Shraon Risher, whose mother was killed in the shooting. The decision was also welcomed by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. “It is my hope that the survivors, the families and the people of South Carolina can find some peace in the fact that justice has been served,” she said in a statement.
The jurors will reconvene on January 3 to decide whether Roof should be sentenced to death or life in prison. He will also stand trial on state murder charges later next year. According to the arrest warrants in the case, Roof entered the church at 8.06 pm and studied the Bible with a prayer group in the church for an hour before opening fire, “striking each victim multiple times.” The warrant also stated that before leaving the Bible study room, Roof made a racially inflammatory statement to a witness.