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Appeals court upholds Dylann Roof's death sentence

Appeals court upholds Dylann Roof's death sentence
Dylann Roof said he carried out the mass shooting at a historically Black church in the hopes that it would spark a race war. File Photo courtesy Charleston County Sheriff's Office

Aug. 25 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence for Dylann Roof, who was convicted of murdering nine people at a Charleston, S.C., church in 2015.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted unanimously to affirm the sentence for his 2017 conviction on federal hate crime charges. The court said he killed the Black congregants with the "express intent of terrorizing, not just his immediate victims at the historically important Mother Emanuel Church, but as many similar people as would hear of the mass murder."

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"No cold record or careful parsing of statutes and precedents can capture the full horror of what Roof did," the opinion states. "His crimes qualify him for the harshest penalty that a just society can impose."

Roof's attorneys appealed his sentence, saying the trial court didn't fully determine whether he was mentally ill and competent to stand trial. Roof, who was 21 at the time of the mass shooting, pleaded not guilty to the murder charges and chose to represent himself at times during his trial.

The self-proclaimed White supremacist said he carried out the massacre because he believed it would catapult a race war in the United States.

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South Carolina state Sen. Clementa Pickney, 41, who was also a pastor at the church; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Sharonda Singleton, 45; and Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, died in the attack.

South Carolina Church Shooting

A woman holding a sign stands in front of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church following services on June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. On June 17, 2015, nine people were shot and killed inside the church during Bible study. A suspect, Dylann Roof, 21, was arrested in connection with the shootings. Photo by Kevin Liles/UPI | License Photo

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