CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The Confederate flag is gone from South Carolina’s Statehouse. The bullet holes have been patched in Emanuel AME’s fellowship hall. And now Dylann Roof will almost certainly spend the rest of his days in prison for killing nine black worshippers at the Charleston church.
A federal jury convicted Roof on all 33 counts Thursday. Those same jurors will decide in another phase of the trial starting Jan. 3 whether he faces the death penalty or life in prison for hate crimes at a historic African-American church whose founder led a failed slave revolt.
When that testimony starts, Roof will be his own attorney, having again fired defense lawyers who fear Roof is taking over because he doesn’t want them to present embarrassing evidence in their efforts to spare his life.
A stunning crime when it happened on June 17, 2015, became more revolting during six days of testimony. Roof fired 77 shots in the fellowship hall. More than 50 hit someone. Each of the nine people killed were struck at least five times. The medical examiner said the angles of some of the bullets seemed to show someone was holding a gun over victims who were lying still with their arms pulled against them. A prosecutor said they were executed like animals.