U.S. Seeks Death Penalty for Dylann Roof in Charleston Church Shootings

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Dylan Roof In Court Over Judge's Gag Order
Roof at a court appearance in July.Photo: Pool/2015 Getty Images

On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old man who shot and killed nine black churchgoers in a racially motivated attack in Charleston, South Carolina, last June. In a statement, Lynch said the decision was “compelled” by “the nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm.”

According to the New York Times, federal prosecutors filed additional documents citing aggravating factors in Roof’s case, including that he’d “expressed hatred and contempt towards African-Americans, as well as other groups, and his animosity towards African-Americans played a role in the murders charged in the indictment.” They also wrote that he had “demonstrated a lack of remorse” and targeted the church group “in order to magnify the [attack’s] societal impact.”

Roof’s lawyers previously said he would plead guilty and face a lifetime in prison, provided the death penalty was ruled out. Roof is also facing state murder charges; if he’s convicted, the penalty is death. He’s due back in federal court on June 8, when prosecutors will discuss a date for his trial.