RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) – A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld Dylann Roof’s conviction and death sentence for the 2015 racial murder of nine members of a South Carolina community. Act.
A unanimous panel of three judges from the US 4th Court of Appeals in Richmond rejected arguments that the young white man should have been declared incompetent to stand in the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
In 2017, Roof became the first person in the United States to be sentenced to death for a federal hate crime. Authorities said Roof opened fire during the closing prayer of a Bible study in the church and rained dozens of bullets on the crowd. He was 21 at the time.
On his appeal, Roof’s attorneys argued that he was wrongly allowed to represent himself during the sentencing, a critical phase of his trial. Roof successfully prevented the jury from hearing evidence of his mental health, “under the delusion,” his attorneys argued that “he would be saved from prison by white nationalists – but, bizarrely, only if he removed his mental impairments from public admission . “
Roof’s attorneys said his convictions and death sentence should be overturned or his case should be sent back to court for “proper assessment”.
The 4th District determined that the trial judge had made no mistake in determining Roof was negotiable and gave Roof’s crimes a crushing reprimand.
“Dylann Roof murdered African Americans in their church, during their Bible study and worship. They had welcomed him. He slaughtered her. He did this with the express intention of not only terrorizing his immediate victims in the historically significant Mother Emanuel Church, but as many similar people as they would find out about the mass murder, “wrote the panel in the reasoning for the verdict.
“No cold record or careful analysis of laws and precedents can capture all of the horror of what Roof has done. His crimes qualify him for the harshest punishment a fair society can inflict, ”the judges wrote.
One of Roof’s attorneys, Margaret Alice-Anne Farrand, an assistant federal defender, declined to comment on the verdict.
All judges on the 4th Court of Appeal, which includes South Carolina, have withdrawn from the Roof’s appeal hearing; one of them, Judge Jay Richardson, was prosecuting Roof’s case as assistant US attorney. The panel that heard arguments in May and passed the verdict on Wednesday consisted of judges from several other appellate circles.
Following his federal trial, Roof was sentenced to nine straight life sentences after pleading guilty to state murder charges in 2017.
Last month, however, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a moratorium and halted all federal executions while the Justice Department is reviewing its execution policies and procedures. The review comes after a historic streak of the death penalty at the end of the Trump administration, which carried out 13 executions in six months. A federal lawsuit has also been filed over the execution protocols – including the risk of pain and suffering associated with the use of pentobarbital, the lethal injection drug.
President Joe Biden, as a candidate, said he would work to end federal executions. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in March that he remains “very concerned”.
Biden has ties to the case. As Vice President, Biden attended the funeral of one of the murdered, Senator Clementa Pinckney, who also ran the ward. During his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden made frequent references to the shooting, saying a visit to Mother Emanuel helped him heal after the death of his son Beau.
Roof’s attorneys could ask the entire 4th District to reconsider the panel’s decision. If his direct appeal is unsuccessful, Roof could file what is known as a 2255 complaint or ask the court to review the constitutionality of his conviction and judgment. He could also petition the US Supreme Court for a presidential pardon.
Kinnard reported from Houston.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in any way without permission.