01:40 GMT +309 December 2019
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    FILE - In this June 18, 2015, file photo, Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof, center, is escorted from the Sheby Police Department in Shelby, N.C.

    Dylann Roof Found Guilty in Charleston Church Massacre

    © AP Photo / Chuck Burton
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    The jury has found Dylann Roof guilty on all counts after he admitted to the nine murders at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, last year.

    The jury returned their verdict after just two hours and three minutes of deliberations.

    Roof had pleaded not guilty to 33 federal charges, including nine counts of violating the Hate Crime Act resulting in death, nine counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence, nine counts of obstruction of exercise of religion resulting in death, three counts of violating the Hate Crime Act involving an attempt to kill, and three counts of obstruction of exercise of religion involving an attempt to kill and use of a dangerous weapon. He is also charged with nine counts of murder and other charges by the state.

    The 22-year-old self-described white supremacist had sat in on a group’s bible study for approximately 15 minutes before firing 70 bullets, in an attempt to “agitate race relations," in the nation.

    The jury had watched the chilling on-camera confession Roof had made during an interrogation, including his laughter over the murders.

    "I went to that church in Charleston and I did it," he said in the video, before laughing.

    Roof had also stated that “someone had to do it,” meaning a racial attack. He claimed that he had researched historic black churches to carry out his sinister plan. He claimed that he had been influenced by the internet, and cited the Trayvon Martin case and Muslims “overrunning” parts of Europe as factors in his racism.

    “Black people are killing white people everyday… What I did is so minuscule compared to what they do to white people every day,” Roof coldly stated in the video.

    Felicia Sanders, who survived the shooting, testified last Wednesday, that Roof was given a copy of the page they were studying before he began his rampage. She stated that he had kept his head down in the group, “just as he is doing right now.” Her 26-year-old son Tywanza, and her 87-year-old aunt Susie Jackson, were killed in the attack. She described her frightened granddaughter being in the room, and covering her small body with her own, while telling the child to “play dead.”

    The same day that Sanders testified, Roof’s mother suffered a heart attack in the courtroom during a lunch recess.

    Closing arguments in the case took place on Thursday morning, with Assistant US Attorney Nathan Williams telling the jurors that “he needs to be held accountable for every bullet."

    "The parishioners could not have seen the hatred in his heart," Williams said, as family members of the victims sobbed in the viewing area. "He sat and waited until they were at their most vulnerable."

    Defense attorney David Bruck asked the jury to "look beyond the surface" and to ask themselves, "Is there something more to this story?"

    Roof’s defense team had previously suggested that the jury “consider his youth,” noting that he told the FBI that he did not have any friends.

    The jury will now have to decide if he should be executed for his crimes, and the sentencing phase could begin as soon as January. His trial for charges by the state is also scheduled to begin next month.

    Tags:
    Hate Crimes, Murder, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Dylann Roof, South Carolina, Charleston
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