A verdict was reached Tuesday in the penalty phase of the trial of Dylann Roof, who was convicted last month of murdering nine black worshipers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015. Roof has been unanimously sentenced to death by the jury, Janae Frazier of WLTX reported. The verdict was reached after "about three hours" of deliberation.
During his closing arguments Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson reiterated Roof's "race war" intentions and his apparent lack of remorse for his actions. "He was unrepentant," Richardson told the jury, according to NBC News. "He understood the consequence that would be coming."
Roof, who represented himself during the penalty phase of his trial, used part of his statement Tuesday to clarify comments he made previously in an FBI confession tape. "I think it's safe to say nobody in their mind wants to go into a church and kill people," Roof said, as reported by NBC News. "In my [FBI confession] tape I told them I had to. But it's not true: I didn't have to. No one made me. What I meant was: I felt like I had to do it. I still feel like I have to do it."
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, in a statement released shortly after the death penalty announcement, said Roof had been "rightly" sentenced. "I want to thank the jurors for their service during this agonizing case," Scott said:
Roof's defense team and family also issued statements. "We will struggle as long as we live to understand why he committed this horrible attack, which caused so much pain to so many good people," the family's statement read, in part:
The Associated Press notes that Roof's sentencing, which will receive a formal hearing Wednesday morning, makes him the first person to receive the death penalty for federal hate crimes.