Verdicts & Settlements

Dylann Roof is convicted in church shooting; jurors deliberated less than two hours

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Dylann Roof

Dylann Roof. Photo from the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office.

Federal jurors in Charleston, South Carolina, have convicted white supremacist Dylann Roof in the June 2015 shooting deaths of nine black church members attending a Bible study.

Jurors deliberated for less than two hours before convicting Roof on Thursday on all 33 charges, the Washington Post reports. The charges included nine counts of hate crimes resulting in death, and nine counts of obstructing the exercise of religion resulting in death, the New York Times reports.

Roof had confessed to the shootings, and the verdict “seemed a foregone conclusion from the first minutes of the trial” when defense lawyer David Bruck acknowledged his client was responsible for the “astonishing, horrible attack,” according to the New York Times.

Bruck’s closing arguments drew several objections from prosecutors, according to a story by the Greenville News published at the USA Today website. Prosecutors maintained Bruck was using his argument in the guilt phase of the trial to counter the death penalty. Roof plans to represent himself in the trial’s penalty phase, though Bruck will be among Roof’s standby counsel.

Roof had also initially elected to represent himself in the guilt phase of the trial, but later changed his mind.

During his arguments to the jury, Bruck said Roof was a loner who had an obsession with war between blacks and whites. Roof had hundreds of photos of his cat and wore sweat pants under his jeans, Bruck said. The lawyer told jurors that Roof’s perceptions were off base, and there was little planning. “He had no escape plan, no money, a car full of dirty stuff,” Bruck said of his client.

“The fact that one is a racist does not tell you what else is going on,” Bruck said. “And what else is going on is what you should be thinking about.”

Roof also faces a trial in state court.

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