On Monday, Dylann Roof pleaded guilty to state murder charges over the killing of nine people in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, The Associated Press reports. In doing so, Roof avoids a second death penalty; the jury handed down his first in January, when he became the first person sentenced to death for committing federal hate crimes.
The murder charge plea deal was portrayed by the state prosecutor to the families of the victims as an "insurance policy," so that even if the death sentence is ultimately overturned, Roof, now 23, will still face a lifetime in prison, PBS Newshour notes.
During his federal trial, Roof did not try to avoid the death penalty. "I have the right to ask you to give me a life sentence, but I'm not sure what good it would do anyway," he told jurors. "I still feel like I had to do it." W. James Antle III makes the case that Dylann Roof is the best argument we have for the death penalty at The Week.