Dylann Roof has been sentenced to death for killing nine black church members, becoming the first American to get the death penalty for federal hate crimes.
A jury deliberated his sentence for about three hours at the end of a trial where Roof showed no remorse for the multiple murder shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, two years ago.
The attacker specifically picked out Emanuel AME Church, the South’s oldest black church, to carry out the cold, calculated slaughter, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said. Roof insisted that he wasn’t mentally ill, but he never asked the jury for forgiveness or mercy, or explained the crime.
On Tuesday he told jurors: “I still feel like I had to do it.”
“I have the right to ask you to give me a life sentence, but I’m not sure what good it would do anyway,” he said as he spoke to the jury for about five minutes.
Roof will be formally sentenced on Wednesday.
The 12 people Roof targeted opened the door for a stranger with a smile, Richardson said. Three people survived the attack.
“They welcomed a 13th person that night ... with a kind word, a Bible, a handout and a chair,” Richardson said during his closing argument, the Associated Press reported. “He had come with a hateful heart and a Glock .45.”
The gunman sat with the Bible study group for about 45 minutes. During the final prayer - when everyone’s eyes were closed - he started firing. He stood over some of the fallen victims, shooting them again as they lay on the floor, Richardson said.
The prosecutor reminded jurors about each one of the victims and the bloody scene that Roof left in the church’s lower level.
The jury convicted him last month of all 33 federal charges he faced, including hate crimes.
Roof did not explain his actions to jurors, saying only that “anyone who hates anything in their mind has a good reason for it”.
Roof acted as his own attorney and did not question any witnesses or put up any evidence.
The last person sent to federal death row was Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in 2015.