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A federal appeals court confirmed Wednesday’s conviction and death sentence. Dylann roof by the racist murders of nine members of the African American congregation Iglesia Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, and said the legal record can’t even capture the “total horror” of what he did.
A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond rejected arguments that the young white man should have been declared incompetent to stand trial for the shootings in the Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, according to The Associated Press.
In 2017, Roof became the first person in the United States to be sentenced to death for a federal hate crime.
Authorities have said Roof opened fire during the closing prayer of a Bible study at the church, raining dozens of bullets on those gathered. He was 21 at the time.
In his appeal, Roof’s attorneys argued that he was wrongly allowed to represent himself during sentencing, a critical phase of his trial. Roof successfully prevented jurors from hearing evidence about his mental health, “under the illusion,” his attorneys argued, that “he would be rescued from prison by white nationalists, but only, strangely, if he kept his mental disabilities out of the picture. public record. “
Roof’s attorneys said his convictions and death sentences should be vacated or his case should be returned to court for a “proper jurisdiction evaluation.”
The Fourth Circuit determined that the trial judge did not make a mistake when found that Roof was competent to stand trial and issued a scathing reprimand for Roof’s crimes.
“Dylann Roof murdered African Americans in his church, during his Bible study and worship. They had welcomed him. I will kill them. He did so with the express intention of terrorizing not only his immediate victims in the historically important Iglesia Madre Emanuel, but so many similar people who would learn of the mass murder, ”the panel wrote in its ruling.
“No cold record or careful analysis of statutes and precedents can capture the full horror of what Roof did. His crimes qualify him for the severest penalty that a just society can impose, ”the judges wrote.
Following his federal trial, Roof received nine consecutive life sentences after pleading guilty in 2017 to state murder charges, which left him awaiting execution in federal prison and spared his victims and their families the burden of a second trial.
However, last month, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a moratorium and stopped all federal executions while the Department of Justice conducts a review of its enforcement policies and procedures.