Dylann Roof, found guilty of killing nine people in a 2015 shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, was sentenced to death Tuesday (10 January) by 12 federal jurors. The group of 10 women and two men recommended the death penalty for all 18 counts.
Roof will formally be sentenced by Judge Richard Gergel on Wednesday (11 January) at 9.30am EST (2.30pm GMT).
In his closing statement, Roof told jurors that he felt he had no choice when he shot the church goers. "In my confession to the FBI I told them that I had to do it, and obviously that's not really true ... I didn't have to do anything," Roof said during his five-minute remarks. "But what I meant when I said that was, I felt like I had to do it, and I still do feel like I had to do it."
According to CNN, the 22-year-old also suggested he would like to be spared the death penalty. "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. "But what I will say is only one of you has to disagree with the other jurors."
Roof killed nine during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on 17 June 2015. The victims were identified as the Rev Clementa Pinckney, Susie Jackson, Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Ethel Lee Lance, the Rev DePayne Middleton Doctor, the Rev Daniel L Simmons Sr, the Rev Sharonda Coleman-Singleton and Myra Thompson.
According to The New York Times, as he left the church, Roof told one of the three survivors, Polly Sheppard, that he was sparing her so she could "tell the story". When he did not encounter police outside of the church, Roof drove north through back roads. He was arrested by police in Shelby, North Carolina the following morning.
During his trial, Roof insisted he did not have any psychological incapacity, refused to call witnesses, presented no evidence and largely sidelined his court-appointed lawyers.
Jurors found Roof guilty of 33 counts for the deadly attack at Emanuel AME Church in December. After about three hours of deliberation in the penalty phase of the case, the jury returned with their unanimous verdict.