Appeals court upholds death penalty for Charleston shooter Dylann Roof

Mass shooter Dylann Roof was sentenced to capital punishment four years ago in connection to the deaths of nine worshippers at a predominantly Black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Although Roof appealed the sentence, The Hill reported this week that a three-judge panel on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against him.

“The harshest penalty”

As the court’s 149-page decision explained: “No cold record or careful parsing of statutes and precedents can capture the full horror of what Roof did.”

The panel determined that his “crimes qualify him for the harshest penalty that a just society can impose,” explaining that the judges “reached that conclusion not as a product of emotion but through a thorough analytical process, which we have endeavored to detail here.”

According to the decision, Roof “slaughtered” the Black parishioners during a Bible stud “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.”

Furthermore, the appeals court found that he “used the internet to plan his attack, using his crimes as a catalyst, intended to foment racial division and strife across America.”

In their ruling, the judges rejected arguments by Roof’s attorneys that the trial judge should not have allowed Roof to defend himself.

“Five experts found him delusional”

His lawyers also contended that evidence of his mental state should have been introduced in court, particularly the fact that “five experts found him delusional.”

Although the latest decision brings Roof one step closer to his execution, recent policy changes by the Biden administration make his fate uncertain.

According to Fox News, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a moratorium last month on all federal executions as the Department of Justice carries out a review of death penalty practices.

President Joe Biden has also made it clear that he hopes to repeal the death penalty as part of his criminal justice reform agenda.

As a candidate last year, his campaign website asserted that individuals guilty of a capital crime “should instead serve life sentences without probation or parole.”

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