Court upholds death sentence for church shooter Dylann Roof

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A national appeals tribunal Wednesday upheld Dylann Roof’s condemnation and decease condemnation for the 2015 racist slayings of 9 members of a Black South Carolina congregation, saying the ineligible grounds cannot adjacent seizure the “full horror” of what helium did.

A unanimous three-judge sheet of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals successful Richmond rejected arguments that Roof should person been ruled incompetent to basal proceedings successful the shootings astatine Mother Emanuel AME Church successful Charleston.

In 2017, Roof became the archetypal idiosyncratic successful the U.S. sentenced to decease for a national hatred crime. Authorities person said Roof opened occurrence during the closing supplication of a Bible survey astatine the church, raining down dozens of bullets connected those assembled. He was 21 astatine the time.

In his appeal, Roof’s attorneys argued that helium was wrongly allowed to correspond himself during sentencing, a captious signifier of his trial. Roof successfully prevented jurors from proceeding grounds astir his intelligence health, “under the delusion,” his attorneys argued, that “he would beryllium rescued from situation by white-nationalists — but only, bizarrely, if helium kept his mental-impairments retired of the nationalist record.”

Roof’s lawyers said his convictions and decease condemnation should beryllium vacated oregon his lawsuit should beryllium sent backmost to tribunal for a “proper competency evaluation.”

The 4th Circuit recovered that the proceedings justice did not perpetrate an mistake erstwhile helium recovered Roof was competent to basal proceedings and issued a scathing rebuke of Roof’s crimes.

“Dylann Roof murdered African Americans astatine their church, during their Bible-study and worship. They had welcomed him. He slaughtered them. He did truthful with the explicit intent of terrorizing not conscionable his contiguous victims astatine the historically important Mother Emanuel Church, but arsenic galore akin radical arsenic would perceive of the wide murder,” the sheet wrote successful is ruling.

“No acold grounds oregon cautious parsing of statutes and precedents tin seizure the afloat fearfulness of what Roof did. His crimes suffice him for the harshest punishment that a conscionable nine tin impose,” the judges wrote.

One of Roof’s attorneys, Margaret Alice-Anne Farrand, a lawman national nationalist defender, declined to remark connected the ruling.

All of the judges successful the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers South Carolina, recused themselves from proceeding Roof’s appeal; 1 of their own, Judge Jay Richardson, prosecuted Roof’s lawsuit arsenic an adjunct U.S. Attorney. The sheet that heard arguments successful May and issued the ruling connected Wednesday was comprised of judges from respective different appellate circuits.

Following his national trial, Roof was fixed 9 consecutive beingness sentences after pleading blameworthy successful 2017 to authorities execution charges, leaving him to await execution successful a national situation and sparing his victims and their families the load of a 2nd trial.

Last month, however, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a moratorium and halted each national executions portion the Justice Department conducts a reappraisal of its execution policies and procedures. The reappraisal comes aft a historical tally of superior punishment astatine the extremity of the Trump administration, which carried retired 13 executions successful six months. A national suit has besides been filed implicit the execution protocols — including the hazard of symptom and suffering associated with the usage of pentobarbital, the cause utilized for lethal injection.

President Joe Biden arsenic a campaigner said he’d enactment to extremity national executions. White House property caput Jen Psaki said successful March that helium continues to person “grave concerns” astir it.

Biden has connections to the case. As vice president, Biden attended the ceremonial for 1 of those slain, authorities Sen. Clementa Pinckney, who besides pastored the congregation. During his 2020 statesmanlike campaign, Biden often referenced the shooting, saying that a sojourn to Mother Emanuel helped him heal successful the aftermath of the decease of his son, Beau.

Roof’s attorneys could inquire the afloat 4th Circuit to reconsider the panel’s ruling. If unsuccessful successful his nonstop appeal, Roof could record what’s known arsenic a 2255 appeal, oregon a petition that the proceedings tribunal reappraisal the constitutionality of his condemnation and sentence. He could besides petition the U.S. Supreme Court oregon question a statesmanlike pardon.

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