Dylann Roof’s conviction and sentence were upheld by the federal appeals court after his attorneys tried to argue that he is mentally ill.
It was in 2015 when Roof took the lives of nine members of a black South Carolina church congregation.
He opened fire during the closing prayer of a Bible study, killing Cynthia Hurd, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Myrah Thompson, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Ethel Lance, and Susie Jackson.
In 2017, he became the first person in the US to be sentenced to death for a federal hate crime.
Roof was 21 when he carried out the massacre at the historic African American church in Charleston, S.C.
In his appeal, his lawyers argued that he was wrongly allowed to represent himself during sentencing.
The attorneys argue that an appellate court should vacate the convictions and death sentence or the case should be returned to court for a “proper competency evaluation.”
“The federal trial that resulted in his death sentence departed so far from the standard required when the government seeks the ultimate price that it cannot be affirmed,” Roof’s attorneys wrote, arguing that his mental illness should’ve prevented him from serving as his own attorney in a part of a trial and being sent to federal death row.
Roof managed to prevent jurors from hearing evidence about his mental health, ‘under the delusion,’ his lawyers argued, that “he would be rescued from prison by white-nationalists – but only, bizarrely, if he kept his mental-impairments out of the public record.”
A three-judge panel affirmed a trial judge’s finding that Roof was competent to stand trial.
“No cold record or careful parsing of statutes and precedents can capture the full horror of what Roof did,” they wrote. “His crimes qualify him for the harshest penalty that a just society can impose.”
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