Dylann Roof, charged with murdering nine black worshipers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015, has been convicted. The "self-declared white supremacist" was found guilty Thursday of the South Carolina church massacre, NBC News reported.
"These nine people exemplified a goodness that was greater than his message of hate," prosecutor Nathan Williams said in his closing arguments Thursday. Of the 33 charges against Roof, 24 of them qualify as hate crimes. Of those, 18 carry the death penalty. The 12-person jury, upon resuming their duties after a holiday break on Jan. 3, will then decide Roof's fate.
In a statement shortly after the verdict was announced, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott expressed his support for the victims families. "As the killer now awaits sentencing, I want the families of those lost that day to know one thing: we are all still with you," Scott said. "While this chapter is now closed, the rest of this book has yet to be written. Your strength and courage has changed Charleston, South Carolina, and our nation forever."
In a videotaped confession recorded following his June 2015 arrest and played by prosecutors in court, Roof is seen admitting the killings to the FBI. The motive given at the time, NBC News said, was "to spark a race war." Polly Sheppard, a survivor of the attack, also testified during the trial and told the court that Roof let her live so she could "tell the story."