*A jury has convicted Dylann Roof in the racially motivated killings of nine black church members during Bible study at an African American church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The jury’s decision – in which Roof faced 33 federal charges including hate crimes and obstruction of religion – had to be unanimous. The same panel will reconvene on Jan. 3 to begin considering if he should be sentenced to death or life in prison.
The jury, made up of nine whites and three blacks, heard from witnesses who testified Roof made multiple trips to Charleston in the months before the June 2015 attack at Emanuel AME Church. They also heard from two survivors.
Roof’s lawyer has asked jurors to consider what was going on in his head as he planned the killings of the nine worshipers.
Defense attorney David Bruck conceded in his closing argument Thursday that Roof killed the victims and even praised the FBI investigation. But Bruck also argued Roof was a suicidal, impressionable loner who never grasped the gravity of what he did.
The defense put up no witnesses. They tried to present evidence about his mental state, but the judge ruled it didn’t have anything to do with his guilt or innocence.
A prosecutor said Thursday that Roof was full of hate and “immense racial ignorance” when he carried out the attack in Charleston. In his closing argument, assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams mocked Roof for calling himself brave in his racist-filled journal and his confession to the FBI, saying the real bravery came from the victims who tried to stop him as he fired 77 bullets at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church.
“Those people couldn’t see the hatred in his heart any more than they could see the .45-caliber handgun and the eight magazines concealed around his waist,” Williams said.