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    Charleston Church Shooter to Take Plea Deal in State Trial, Avoid Death Penalty

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    White supremacist Dylann Roof, the 22-year-old who has been convicted and sentenced to death for killing nine people inside a historic African American Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, will plead guilty to separate murder charges in his state trial for the crime.

    Roof’s victims were attending Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church before the racist attack, which triggered an outpouring of support around the country, including vigils, marches and other demonstrations. 

    A suspect which police are searching for in connection with the shooting of several people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina is seen in a still image from CCTV footage released by the Charleston Police Department June 18, 2015
    © REUTERS / Charleston Police Department

    Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said that Roof will forgo a state trial and be sentenced to life in prison as part of a plea agreement that is due on April 10, and though the death sentence had been pursued, that is no longer an option.

    In January, a federal jury found Roof guilty of 33 charges, including hate crimes. Wilson hasn’t said why the plea agreement was agreed to by prosecutors, but told Charleston newspapers that "the goal is to get him into federal custody so their sentence can be imposed."

    Shortly after he was captured, photos of Roof surfaced online showing him waving Confederate flags, spitting on and burning the American flag and wearing a jacket bearing patches showing the colonial flag of Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa. It is thought that the representations of those flags were meant to signal Roof’s support for the subjugation of black people. 

    Roof also wrote a 2,500-word manifesto lamenting what he saw as weakness in white people and proclaiming that African Americans are inferior. 

    In the screed he seems to resign himself to his fate as a martyr for his race, writing, "I have no choice … I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is the most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me."

    Reverend Anthony Thompson, whose wife, Myra, was one of Roof’s victims, said he is relieved that he is being spared another trial and the need to repeat his painful testimony.

    "The federal trial was very satisfactory for me … I’m not dealing with this anymore. I’m not concerned with Dylann Roof. I’m praying for him and that is it," he said.

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    Tags:
    plea deal, Domestic Terrorism, Shooting, Dylann Roof, Charleston, South Carolina
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