Supreme Court dismisses appeal against Charleston shooter’s death sentence

FILE - Dylann Roof enters the courtroom at the Charleston County Judicial Center to deliver his guilty plea to murder April 10, 2017 in Charleston, SC. The Supreme Court has denied an appeal from Roof, who was appealing his death sentence and his conviction in the 2015 racist killings of nine members of a black community in South Carolina. (Grace Beamm/The Post and the Courier via AP, Pool, File)

The Supreme Court has dismissed Dylann Roof’s appeal of his death sentence (Image: AP)

The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal of a man who was appealing his death sentence over the 2015 mass shooting of nine people at a historic black church.

Lawyers for Dylann Roof, the convicted killer of 9 members of a black church, had hoped the court would establish guidelines for how lower courts should handle issues of mental competence for those who face the death penalty.

The Supreme Court justices did not comment after dismissing the appeal.

In June 2015, the then 21-year-old Roof was a member of a Bible study group at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. He sat in the back of the church and listened for 45 minutes before he started firing a pistol.

CHARLESTON, SC - FEBRUARY 27: Location of Mother Emanuel Church of A People's Town Hall hosted by Joe Madison of SiriusXM Urban View on February 27, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Jeff Gentner/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Emanuel AME Church is one of the oldest black congregations in the South (Image: Getty Images)

Dach killed 9 people and injured one in the attack. Three other members of the Bible group survived unharmed.

Some of the victims included the church’s pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, and Cynthia Graham Hurd, sister of former State Senator Malcolm Graham.

Investigators discovered that Roof was a radicalized white nationalist who ran a racist website. He later confessed to FBI agents that he hoped the shooting would spark a race war or bring back segregation.

Dach was captured after a manhunt. He was found when a bystander recognized the Confederate flag bumper sticker and his haircut. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on 12 counts of committing hate crimes, 12 counts of obstructing religious worship and nine counts of murder.

Visitors including Matt and Marsha Bacoate leave flowers, notes and prayers at the Emanuel AME Church on the five year anniversary of the shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2020, in Charleston, SC. Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people while they were in a church Bible study. (Grace Beahm Alford/The Post and the Courier via AP)

Visitors leave flowers, notes and prayers at Emanuel AME Church on the five-year anniversary of the Charleston shooting (Image: AP)

Roof fired his attorneys and represented himself for the punishment phase of his trial. He did not call witnesses, provide no evidence and insisted that he was not mentally ill.

When given the opportunity to apologize for his actions, Roof told the jury, “I still feel like I had to do it.”

Later in the penalty phase, he seemingly agreed with his belief. “I have the right to ask you for a life sentence, but I’m not sure what that would do anyway,” he told the jury.

Roof was found guilty in 2017 and sentenced to death. He was the first person in United States history to be sentenced to death for a hate crime.

In 2021, Roof entered his conviction in a federal appeals court. His lawyers argued that he should not be allowed to represent himself and should be declared unfit to stand trial.

A panel of three judges unanimously rejected his appeal.

Roof is currently on death row at the maximum security facility at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The Emanuel AME Church was founded in 1817, making it one of the oldest black congregations in the South.

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Justin Scacco

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