Dylann Roof, the convicted shooter in the assault on Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, that left a total of 12 victims, killing nine of them, was sentenced to death on Tuesday.
Jurors began deliberating Tuesday over whether Roof, 22, should get the death penalty or life in prison for his crimes. It took two hours for the 12 jurors to come to their unanimous decision. If they all were unable toagree, a life sentence would have been automatically imposed.
“We want to express our sympathy to all of the families who were so grievously hurt by Dylann Roof’s actions. Today’s sentencing decision means that this case will not be over for a very long time,” Roof’s defense said in a statement. “We are sorry that, despite our best efforts, the legal proceedings have shed so little light on the reasons for this tragedy.”
After the decision, Roof’s family also released a statement.
“We will always love Dylann. We will struggle as long as we live to understand why he committed this horrible attack, which caused so much pain to so many good people,” the statement read. “We wish to express the grief we feel for the victims of his crimes, and our sympathy to the many families he has hurt. We continue to pray for the Emanuel AME families and the Charleston community.”
Formal sentencing will be Wednesday morning, where families will have opportunity to speak openly in court. Roof has asked judge to appoint new defense team to file motion for retrial.
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott thanked jurors for their service in a statement posted to Twitter, and said Roof was “rightly sentenced to death.”