CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Jurors are expected to begin deliberations Tuesday as to whether Dylann Roof will receive the death penalty or life in prison for the 2015 massacre at a historic black church in South Carolina that left nine Bible study participants dead.
Last month, the same jury took less than two hours to find Roof guilty of all 33 federal counts against him, including hate crimes and obstruction of religion. For four days, prosecutors presented their case as to why they feel the 22-year-old Roof should be executed for his crimes. Roof, representing himself, put up no defense.
Here’s what has happened in his trial and what to expect.
LIFE OR DEATH
Prosecutors called a total of 25 witnesses to make their case as to why Roof should get the death penalty for the June 2015 slaughter at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Relatives of all nine victims gave emotional testimony about the loss of their loved ones, recalling special memories and describing a painful future without each person in it.
As during the guilt phase of his trial, Roof put up no witnesses and also opted not to testify himself. During sentencing, Roof has represented himself, although his former defense team has remained seated with him, acting as his legal advisers.
Roof’s whole trial was put on hold for several weeks so U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel could hold a first competency hearing. During that proceeding, which was closed to the public over media objections, Gergel heard two days of testimony, after which he determined Roof was mentally competent to face trial.
After he was found guilty, a day before the scheduled start of the sentencing phase, Gergel held another hearing last week on Roof’s mental status. At that time, the judge said serious enough issues had been raised in filings made under seal that the judge needed to address them in court.
Gergel deemed Roof competent both to stand trial for sentencing and to represent himself, and jurors returned to court Jan. 4.