CHARLESTON, South Carolina – A federal jury found 22-year-old Dylann Roof guilty with hate crimes after he shot and killed nine African American church members at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in June.
He was found guilty with 12 counts of committing a hate crime against black victims, 12 counts of obstructing the exercise of religion and nine counts of using a firearm to commit murder, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Next month, the jury will decide whether or not Roof will receive the death penalty or be sentenced to life in prison.
“A man of immense hatred walked that room shooting person after person after person,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Nathan Williams told the jury. “A man whose actions show him to be a person of tremendous cowardice, shooting them when they had their eyes closed, shooting them when they were in prayer.”
Roof’s defense attorney, David Bruck, argued that Roof was delusional when he committed the crime. Though Bruck tried to bring in a psychiatrist and a psychologist, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel did not allow it, arguing Roof’s mental state had nothing to do with his guilt, reported the State newspaper.
Bruck asked the jury to consider why Roof committed the crime, pointing out his unusual behavior, like wearing sweatpants under jeans in the warm South Carolina weather, or taking hundreds of pictures of his cat without having any photos of humans.
“He tells the FBI, ‘I’m not delusional,’” Bruck said to the jury. “When someone says that, common sense tells you he might be delusional.”
Although Bruck pushed the idea that Roof has a mental instability or impairment, Asst. U.S. attorney Stephen Curran focused his attention on racism.
“Don’t be distracted by the defense counsel arguments suggesting there’s a deeper meaning to this,” Curran countered. “It’s not that complicated. … The answer is obvious. The reason is violent racism still exists. … There are still people who will murder, still people who will kill, because of the color of someone’s skin.”