South Carolina jury to deliberate church
shooter's fate next week
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[January 07, 2017]
By Harriet McLeod
CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Jurors could
begin deliberating on Tuesday whether white supremacist Dylann Roof
should be sentenced to death or life in prison for killing nine black
people at a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina, a federal
judge said on Friday.
The same jury that found Roof, 22, guilty last month of 33 federal
charges including hate crimes heard a third day of raw testimony from
the survivors of victims in the June 2015 massacre at Emanuel African
Methodist Episcopal Church.
"My heart is broken," said Malcolm Graham, brother of librarian Cynthia
Hurd, who was among those killed after welcoming Roof to the evening
Bible study meeting where he opened fire. "Cynthia was easygoing, my
motivator, my example."
Family and friends attending the penalty phase of Roof's trial sobbed at
the memories of victims including Ethel Lance, a matriarch whose family
was left in "tattered pieces" by her death, daughter Sharon Risher said.
Susie Jackson, 87, the oldest victim, "had an unconditional love for
everyone" despite living through decades of racial discrimination,
grandson Walter "Bernie" Jackson Jr. testified.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Joseph Hamski provided
more insight into Roof's motivation to kill, outlining references he
made to racist and white supremacist groups in writings jail officers
found in his cell in August 2015.
Roof's comments appeared to be a continuation of the racist manifesto
police found in his car when he was arrested the day after the shooting.
"I was unable to finish before because I was in a hurry to get to
Charleston," Roof wrote from his cell, before stating his belief that
Jews, Hispanics and Muslims posed a threat to white people.
"I did what I thought would make the biggest wave," Roof wrote, noting
he had no remorse. "And now the fate of our race sits in the hands of my
brothers who continue to live freely."
[to top of second column]
Dylann Roof, who is facing the death penalty for the hate-fueled
killings of nine black churchgoers, makes his opening statement at
his trial in this courtroom sketch in Charleston, South Carolina,
U.S., January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Sketch by Robert Maniscalco
A few months before the shooting, Roof also posted his views on the
white supremacist website Stormfront, Hamski said.
"I consider myself well-versed in racism," Roof wrote on the site,
according to evidence displayed on a courtroom screen.
Some people he corresponded with there said they wanted to meet him,
but the agent did not say if any meetings took place.
Roof is representing himself during the sentencing phase and does
not plan to present any evidence in his defense. Testimony is
expected to conclude on Monday.
(Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Tom Brown)
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