Dylann Roof, who was convicted last month of fatally shooting nine black churchgoers in 2015, said during the closing arguments of his trial’s sentencing phase on Tuesday that he felt as if he “had to do it.”
Roof, 22, is representing himself and will soon find out if he will be sentenced to the death penalty or spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Roof walked into the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, known as “Mother Emanuel,” in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015. He killed nine congregation members who were attending a Bible study there, and admitted his guilt to FBI agents after being arrested.
“I am guilty,” he said during a two-hour talk with agents, a video of which was shown to jurors. “We all know I’m guilty.”
Roof didn’t show any remorse as he spoke to jurors during his closing arguments on Tuesday.
“I felt like I had to do it, and I still feel like I had to do it,” he said, adding that he didn’t know “what good that would do” to ask for life in prison.
Prosecutors have asked the jury to give Roof the death penalty. If jurors don’t unanimously determine to do so, he automatically will be given a life sentence.
“They welcomed a 13th person that night ... with a kind word, a Bible, a handout and a chair,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said during his closing argument at Roof’s sentencing. “He had come with a hateful heart and a Glock .45.”
Roof killed Cynthia Hurd, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, Daniel Simmons, Tywanza Sanders, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Myra Thompson and Clementa Pinckney, who was the pastor of the church.
Jurors are expected to deliberate following Roof’s closing arguments. A decision could be reached as early as Tuesday.