Jurors Hear Closing Arguments in Dylann Roof Trial

Charleston County Sheriff(CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof will have one last opportunity Tuesday to plead his case in front of a jury.

Roof, already convicted of opening fire and killing nine churchgoers during a bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015, will be sentenced to death or life in prison at the conclusion of this federal trial. The jury will begin deliberations after Tuesday's closing arguments.

The government is asking the jury to sentence Roof to death. In the sentencing phase of the federal trial, the government laid out its case over four days, with testimony from the loved ones of victims. The family members and friends shared personal stories about the victims and described what life has been like since the shooting. Jurors cried in court during some of the emotional testimony.

Roof, 22, who is representing himself, refused to testify and did not call any witnesses to the stand. Last week, Roof spoke for less than five minutes in his opening statement, telling the jury there is nothing wrong with him psychologically. He did not apologize for his actions.

Among those who testified for the government during the sentencing phase was Jennifer Pinckney, wife of slain pastor and South Carolina State Sen. Clementa Pinckney. Pinckney told the jury her husband was a loving and devoted father to their two young daughters, then 6 and 12.

She and her youngest daughter were in an office at the church on the night of the shooting. She recounted to the jury how she and her young daughter hid under a desk as gunshots rang out. She said they put their hands over each other's mouth. She said Roof tried to open the door to where she was, but it was locked.

She testified that the hardest thing she ever had to do was tell her children that their father had been killed.

On June 17, 2015, Roof entered the predominantly black Emanuel AME Church with the "intent of killing African-Americans engaged in the exercise of their religious beliefs," according to the federal indictment against him. The parishioners welcomed Roof into their Bible study group, according to the indictment, after which Roof drew his pistol and opened fire.

The 33 federal counts against Roof included hate crimes resulting in death and obstruction of exercise of religion resulting in death.

Roof's defense attorney David Bruck told the court last month that Roof "did it," but added, "Our society does not order the death penalty if there are reasons to choose life."

Roof also faces a state trial in which he may again face the death penalty. The state trial, which was scheduled to begin this month, has been delayed indefinitely.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Check Also

Video shows suspect linked to fires at Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Halls

@OlyPD/Twitter(OLYMPIA, Was.) -- Olympia Police are searching for a suspect connected to fires at two Jehovah’s Witness Halls.Olympia Fire responded to the fire at Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Olympia on Monday morning, accord...