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United States jury sentences Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof to death

11 January 2017

Now 22, Roof is on trial in federal court for the killing of nine people inside a black church in Charleston.

(FILES) This AFP file photo taken on June 20, 2015 shows a police officer standing guard outside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

"I would say that in this case, the prosecution and anyone else who hates me, are the ones that have been misled", Roof said in a soft voice, standing before the eight women and four men who, shortly after, were to begin deliberating whether he will be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"I have the right to ask you to give me a life sentence, but I'm not sure what good it would do anyway", he said.

Roof did not explain his actions to jurors, saying only that "anyone who hates anything in their mind has a good reason for it".

Earlier, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson had said Roof was beyond redemption. Only three out of the 12 in the church at the time survived.

"The defendant had come not to learn, not to receive the Word, but he came with a hateful heart and a Glock 45", Richardson said.

The brevity of Roof's statement stood in stark contrast to the prosecution's closing argument, which lasted for two hours.

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Jurors will get the case after closing arguments Tuesday morning from prosecutors and perhaps Roof, who has represented himself during sentencing but has put up no fight for his life.

"In that moment, a man of huge hatred walked that room shooting person after person after person, stopping only so he could reload more magazines and kill more people", assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams told the jury in December.

The gunman sat with the Bible study group for about 45 minutes.

He ended by reminding jurors that they had each agreed to stand up for their opinions during deliberations, as Olgin reported, and that a death sentence would require a unanimous decision.

"It was an act of tremendous cowardice, shooting people as they have their eyes closed in prayer, shooting them on the ground".

The prosecutor reminded jurors about each one of the victims and the bloody scene that Roof left in the church's lower level.

Relatives of Tywanza Sanders, the youngest victim in the massacre at Mother Emanuel AME, were the last to testify.

Roof is facing separate murder charges brought by the state of SC, which is also seeking the death penalty. He was the church pastor and a state senator. Roof is representing himself and introduced no witnesses or testimony in his own defense.