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Roof gets death penalty for Charleston church massacre

Cynthia Roldan and John Monk, The State (Columbia, S.C.) on

Published in News & Features

"We learned about the defendant's cold and calculated choices that caused those losses to happen," Richardson said. "His racist ideology the acquiring of that ideology, that's part of his preparation that's part of what led him to walk in that door at Mother Emanuel on June 17 (2015)."

Richardson also noted how Roof spent time on racist websites, but also chose to create his own to continue spreading "his message of hate; his message of revenge; his message of agitation."

"He spent years acquiring this deep hatred," Richardson said. "He 'had to do it.' Those are the words of an extraordinary racist."

After highlighting what the loss of every victim meant to their families, Richardson went on to enumerate reasons why Roof's case qualified for the death penalty. All the while, Roof, 22, sat motionless as Richardson listed the reasons why Roof should be put to death.

Richardson got a second chance to argue why Roof needs to be sentenced to death, during his counter-argument to Roof's closing statement.

Richardson called Roof "unrepentant" and said his closing argument highlighted how Roof's racism is not passionate or angry, but cold and calculated.

"His response is to double down," said Richardson in response to Roof's closing argument. "It's to continue to tell you the same thing. He wants you to believe that you have been misled. That indeed he was justified. That he was justified in committing a modern day lynching.

"Render the full measure of justice for this defendant," Richardson added. "Sentence this defendant to death."

In his closing argument, Roof also said that the jury had heard in his taped confession to the FBI that Roof felt like he "had to do it." In court on Tuesday, Roof said "that's obviously not true."

"I didn't have to do it," Roof said. "But what I meant when I said that was that I felt that I had to do it. And I still feel that I had to do it."

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