CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – The Latest on the federal death penalty trial of Dylann Roof, accused of killing nine black people during a South Carolina church Bible study (all times local):
Jury convicts Dylann Roof in racially motivated slayings of 9 black church members in South Carolina.
Dylann Roof’s lawyer has asked jurors to consider what was going on in his head as he planned the killings of nine black worshippers in a racially motivated attack at a Charleston church.
Defense attorney David Bruck conceded in his closing argument Thursday that Roof killed the victims at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015 and even praised the FBI investigation.
But Bruck also argued Roof was a suicidal, impressionable loner who never grasped the gravity of what he did.
Prosecutors successfully objected to several of Bruck’s arguments as he tried to argue Roof’s mental status. A judge has ruled that talking about his mental state is reserved for the next phase when jurors – if they find Roof guilty – will decide he if faces the death penalty.
Roof has said he will act as his own attorney during that part of the trial.
A prosecutor says the goodness of the victims who were slaughtered at a Charleston church has defeated Dylann Roof’s message of racial hatred.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams said Thursday in his closing argument that jurors should have no doubt about Roof’s guilt. He apologized before showing crime scene photos of the bodies with small pictures of each person when they were alive beside them.
Williams mocked Roof for calling his actions brave, saying the true bravery was in the black churchgoers who died trying to stop him.
Jurors will consider if Roof, who is white, is guilty of 33 charges, including hate crimes and obstruction of religion. He faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.
Federal prosecutors have started their closing argument in Dylann Roof’s death penalty trial by saying the 22-year-old white man targeted nine black church members when they were most vulnerable.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams told jurors Thursday that Roof waited until the Bible study group had its eyes closed for prayer before Roof opened fire.
Williams said he was going to concentrate less on the evidence and more on Roof’s hatred, cowardice and immense racial ignorance.
Williams says Roof believed black people were animals and less than human when he violated the sanctuary of the church and killed nine people on June 17, 2015, at Emanuel African Methodist Church.
Roof did not react to Williams’ arguments.
Roof’s attorneys will have a chance to make a closing argument.
Jurors will likely soon be asked to decide if the man accused in the shooting deaths of nine black worshippers at a South Carolina church is guilty of federal hate crimes.
Closing arguments are expected when the jury arrives Thursday morning at Dylann Roof’s death penalty trial. The judge will hand jurors the case a short time later.
Jurors will decide if Roof is guilty or not guilty of 33 separate charges, including hate crimes and obstruction of religion charges for each of the nine people killed and three who survived the June 2015 massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston.
If they find Roof guilty, the same jurors will return Jan. 3 for the next phase of the trial to determine if he’s sentenced to death or life in prison.
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)