Dylann Roof, who was convicted in December on all charges related to the 2015 killing of nine black worshipers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, was sentenced to death Tuesday.
Roof, who represented himself during the sentencing phase of the trial, told the jury, "I felt like I had to do it, and I still do feel like I had to do it," but still asked jurors to spare his life. "From what I've been told, I have a right to ask you to give me a life sentence, but I'm not sure what good that will do anyway," he said during his closing statements. "But what I will say is only one of you has to disagree with the other jurors."
The decision to hand Roof the death penalty was unanimous, beyond a reasonable doubt, on all fronts, including that the crime was racially motivated. Roof, 22, is the first person sentenced to death for a federal hate crime.
After the sentencing, Roof's family released a statement expressing their grief to the victims' families. "We will struggle as long as we live to understand why he committed this horrible attack, which caused so much pain to so many good people."