Dylann Roof Found Guilty in Charleston Church Massacre

Dylann S. Roof, a self-radicalized young white supremacist who killed nine black parishioners last year when he opened fire during a long-planned assault on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, was found guilty by a federal jury here on Thursday.

The jury convicted Mr. Roof of nine counts of hate crimes resulting in death, three counts of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill (there were three survivors), nine counts of obstructing the exercise of religion resulting in death, three counts of that charge with an attempt to kill, and nine counts of using a firearm to commit murder during a crime of violence.

Mr. Roof, 22, stood, his hands at his side and his face emotionless, as a clerk read the verdict aloud in court. Two deputy United States marshals stood behind Mr. Roof, whose lawyers also stood nearby.

He will face the same jurors next month when they gather on Jan. 3 to begin a second and more suspenseful phase of his trial to decide whether he will be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole. In the phase, however, Mr. Roof has told the judge that he plans to represent himself.

Reaction to the verdict was swift. “It is my hope that the survivors, the families and the people of South Carolina can find some peace in the fact that justice has been served,” Gov. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina said in a statement.

The jury reached its decision in the trial’s guilt phase after deliberating for only a couple of hours; closing arguments were Thursday morning. The verdict seemed a foregone conclusion from the first minutes of the trial, which began on Dec. 7 and included a swift acknowledgment from the chief defense lawyer, David I. Bruck, that Mr. Roof was responsible for the “astonishing, horrible attack” on June 17, 2015.

Indeed, Mr. Roof had chillingly confessed to investigators nearly 18 months earlier and revealed his purpose in a blatantly racist manifesto that he published online. His choice of targets seemed intensely premeditated — he scouted the church half a dozen times — although he also researched other black churches and a festival elsewhere in South Carolina before settling on Charleston because, he wrote, it is the “most historic city in my state.”

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SOURCE: NY Times, Kevin Sack and Alan Blinder