Family members of those killed in cold blood in a racially motivated attack that took place in the summer of 2015 at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church had the chance of coming face to face with the convicted killer right before the sentence was passed on Wednesday, January 11th.
According to court documents, 22-year-old Dylan Roof is the first hate crime defendant to have been sentenced to death. Initially, the jurors wanted to propose life in prison without the possibility of parole. However, after the perpetrator’s closing argument, the ten women and two men unanimously proposed to serve Dylan Roof with the death penalty.
Roof’s statement came after an impassionate two-hours long speech given out by the prosecution. Basically, all the defendant – who chose to represent himself in court – said was that he was not mentally ill.
One of the victims’ sister described the convicted killer as “the worst kind of evil” imaginable. However, the son of Rev. Dan Simmons told Roof he forgave his actions and hopes he finds retribution. At the same time, other relatives of Roof’s victims were not so magnanimous. The niece of Susie Jackson, Gayle Jackson told the perpetrator he was praying for his soul to burn in hell while praying for his mother.
Even though the jurors unanimously passed their verdict, legal experts say the trial is far from over, because of the complexity a death penalty case involves. According to court documents, the defendant has two weeks to appeal his sentence.
One of South Carolina’s former prosecutors, Holman Gossett said that not having a legal team to represent him during the sentencing phase of the trial could, in the future, re-open the case. In this scenario, the case “would go through the process of automatic hearings with appellate courts”, in order to determine if there are any reasons under the law that it should not stand legal grounds.
After the meeting was over, Dan Simmons Jr, Rev. Simmons’ son declared he felt extremely pleased with the verdict, praising the Department of Justice. Moreover, he believes that the actions of Dylan Roof did not start a race war, as he was hoping, but if something, did exactly the opposite. He also ended the press conference saying that, in the end, hate will never win.
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