Dylann Roof’s Death Sentence Upheld by Federal Appeals Court

The 27-year-old was found guilty of carrying out a 2015 mass shooting at a Black church in South Carolina, where nine Black parishioners were killed.


Image via Getty/Grace Beahm-Pool


A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction and death sentence of Dylann Roof, the man who was found guilty of killing nine members of a Black church in South Carolina.

According to the Washington Post, a three-judge panel unanimously rejected Roof’s request for a redo of his sentencing hearing. His attorneys filed a motion back in May, claiming the 27-year-old convicted murdered was delusional and too incompetent to stand trial. The federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, didn’t buy the argument.

“No cold record or careful parsing of statutes and precedents can capture the full horror of what Roof did,” the judges wrote in their opinion. “His crimes qualify him for the harshest penalty that a just society can impose … 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.”

On June 17, 2015, Roof entered the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and killed nine Black parishioners as they were conducting Bible study. Prosecutors provided evidence that indicated Roof was a white supremacist who carried out the mass shooting alone. They also pointed to some of his writings, in which he expressed his desire to start a race war.

“Dylann Roof murdered African Americans at their church, during their Bible-study and worship,” the opinion read. “They had welcomed him. He slaughtered them. 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.”

In 2017, Roof pleaded guilty to state murder charges and received nine consecutive sentences of life without parole. He became the first person in the United States to be sentenced to death for a federal hate crime. 

As pointed out by the Post, Roof’s legal team has the option of asking the appeals court to reconsider the panel’s ruling, or take his appeal request to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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