Dylann Roof Convicted Guilty in Charleston Church Shooting: Is He Deserving of The Death Penalty?
On December 15, 2016, Dylann Roof, the Caucasian male that massacred 9 devout Christians in a prominent African-American church in South Carolina, has been found guilty on all federal charges.
On June 17, 2015, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church warmly welcomed Dylann Roof to join their Bible Study. However, during a prayer, while every member of the church had their heads bowed and eyes shut, Roof pulled a pistol that he earlier hid underneath his white sweatshirt, and began to fire. After the massacre, which left three survivors, Roof had fled the scene. After the ordeal, police reviewed surveillance videos in which they see a white male, who was later said to be the shooter by a survivor, entering the predominantly black church. The male was later identified as Dylann Roof by friends and family.
A day after the shooting, police receive a tip in which a car matching Roof’s description was spotted in North Carolina, but had South Carolina license plates. Roof was eventually arrested in Shelby, North Carolina which is 245 miles away from Charleston 14 hours after the shooting. Roof was cooperative, and even admitted to the murders.
While investigating Roof further, police find evidence on his Facebook page that Roof was a self-declared white supremacist who was fond of the Confederate battle flag. Roof had explained in a manifesto that he had no choice but to go through with the murders, and even called all African-Americans “stupid and violent.” During Roof’s trial, Polly Sheppard, a survivor who witnessed the shooting, and luckily had her life spared by Roof, testified during the trial and said that Roof shouted racial obscenities during the killings.
“Why are you doing this,” asked Tywanza Sanders, a barber who attended the Bible Study, recalled Sheppard as she testified.
“I had to do it,” Sheppard said Roof replied. “You’re people are raping our women, raping our nation!” Shortly after, Sanders was killed.
With the verdict being read as “guilty” after two hours of deliberation by the jury, Roof was convicted of 33 federal charges including First-Degree Murder, and hate crimes. Now that the conviction phase of Roof’s case is over with, the next and final step is the penalty. What will be Dylann Roof’s punishment for committing such heinous acts? Roof is eligible for the death penalty, and the jury, which includes ten women and three men, are in charge of handing down the sentence.
While most think Roof deserves the death penalty, others would argue the fact that the death penalty is in humane, and that no one should have the option to determine the way another person’s life ends. Family members of the slain churchgoers are decided on this issue, and some publicly stated that he should not recieve the death penalty. In the Ten Commandments, the sixth reads “Thy Shalt Not Kill”, should that play a role for the jurors in determining this penalty? If you were a juror who was in charge of making this decision, what would you do? How would you vote? The sentencing phase will be scheduled to start in January.