When will Dylann Roof be executed? Charleston shooter's death penalty upheld by court

The court argued that the legal record cannot even capture the 'full horror' of Dylann Roof's crime


                            When will Dylann Roof be executed? Charleston shooter's death penalty upheld by court
Dylann Roof became the first person in the country to get a death sentence for a federal hate crime in 2017 (Charleston County Sheriff's Office)
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A federal appeals court upheld church shooter Dylann Roof’s conviction and death sentence for the 2015 racist killings of nine members of a Black South Carolina congregation on Wednesday, August 25. The court argued that the legal record cannot even capture the 'full horror' of Roof's crime. Authorities noted that Roof opened fire during a 2015 Bible study session at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, that killed 9 African-Americans.

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A unanimous three-judge panel of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond rejected arguments from Roof's attorneys that he should have been ruled incompetent to stand trial in the shootings at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Roof became the first person in the country to get a death sentence for a federal hate crime in 2017. It is important to note here that Roof was 21-years-old when he committed the crime.

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Roof’s attorneys argued that he was wrongly allowed to represent himself during sentencing. He successfully prevented jurors from hearing evidence about his mental health, "under the delusion" that "he would be rescued from prison by white-nationalists — but only, bizarrely, if he kept his mental impairments out of the public record." Roof's attorneys further argued that his convictions and death sentence should be vacated or sent back to court for a "proper competency evaluation". The court, however, upheld Roof's conviction and death sentence stating that the trial judge did not commit an error when he found Roof was competent to stand trial.

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The court said in the ruling, "Dylann Roof murdered African Americans at their church, during their Bible study and worship. They had welcomed him. He slaughtered them. He did so 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. No cold record or careful parsing of statutes and precedents can capture the full horror of what Roof did. His crimes qualify him for the harshest penalty that a just society can impose." All of the judges in the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals recused themselves from hearing Roof’s appeal. The panel that issued the ruling on Wednesday, August 25 had judges from several other appellate circuits. 

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Dylann Roof is currently awaiting execution in federal prison. Roof’s attorneys could ask the full 4th Circuit to reconsider the ruling or he could file a 2255 appeal or a request that the trial court review the constitutionality of his conviction and sentence. Alternatively, he could also petition the US Supreme Court or seek a presidential pardon.

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