March 31 (UPI) -- Dylann Roof, sentenced to death in federal court in a mass church shooting in South Carolina in 2015, will plead guilty to state murder charges and receive a life sentence in prison, the prosecutor said Friday.
Roof, 22, was convicted on Dec. 15 of 33 federal charges, including hate crimes, and sentenced to death by jurors on Jan. 10 for killing nine black worshippers on June 17, 2015, at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson also was pursuing the death penalty for nine state murder charges.
But Wilson said Roof will plead guilty at 1 p.m. April 10 and will receive a life sentence in the plea deal. He will be able to address the judge if he chooses and family members also will have the opportunity to talk.
Wilson announced the information through an email Friday morning to the families of the victims.
"I write with great news that the state's case is ready to wrap up," she wrote in a letter obtained by The Post and Courier. "As I told you towards the end of trial and in other updates, at this point our goal is to provide an insurance policy to the federal conviction and sentence. The most effective way to do that is to secure a guilty plea for a life sentence and get the defendant into federal custody."
Wilson told the newspaper in an interview the plea deal will allow the federal government to move him to federal prison.
"The goal is to get him into federal custody so their sentence can be imposed," she said.
Roof is now in the Charleston County detention center. Male prisoners sentenced to death in federal courts usually are housed at a prison in Terre Haute, Ind., where executions are conducted.
The Rev. Sharon Risher, whose mother, Ethel Lee Lance, died in the shooting, was called by Wilson about the news.
"I totally appreciated that," Risher said. "I'm feeling glad we don't have to endure another trial. I believe in my heart that this is the right thing to do. He won't ever be able to step outside again. He won't ever feel the sun on his skin again."
Charleston County Public Defender Ashley Pennington, who is Roof's attorney in state court, declined to comment on the negotiated plea, including taking the death penalty off the table. David Bruck, Roof's lead attorney in the federal case, also declined to comment. Roof represented himself during the sentencing phase of the federal trial.