Sat | Feb 25, 2017

Angry, forgiving families confront Dylan Roof at hearing

Published:Thursday | January 12, 2017 | 12:00 AM
The Rev. Spike Coleman pushes John Pinckney, father of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the Emanuel Church shooting victims, as they leave leaves the U.S. District Court on Tuesday in Charleston, South Carolina.

South Carolina (AP):

Family members of nine slain church worshippers confronted Dylann Roof yesterday, one of them shouting at the condemned killer as he stared ahead emotionless during his formal sentencing hearing. Others offered forgiveness and love, urging Roof to accept God into his life.

An aunt of 26-year-old Tywanza Sanders, the youngest victim killed during the 2015 slayings at a black church, demanded that the avowed white supremacist look at her as she talked about her nephew's "great, big heart" that couldn't be donated because of the shooting investigation.

"Dylann," Janet Scott said quietly as she started speaking.

"Dylann! DYLANN!" she said, her voice rising.

Towards the end of her remarks, she said, "I wish you would look at me, boy."

Roof, 22, didn't look up as more than a dozen grieving people spoke. Instead, he gazed ahead, his head tilted down slightly as he has during much of the trial.

A jury sentenced an unre-pentant Roof to death on Tuesday. Roof had one final opportunity to ask for mercy, but instead told jurors he still "felt like I had to do it".

 

CHANCE TO ADDRESS HIM

 

Family members of the victims testified at Roof's trial, but the formal sentencing hearing gave them a chance to speak directly to Roof, without prosecutors or the judge interrupting or asking questions. US District Judge Richard Gergel formally sentenced Roof later yesterday.

The jury convicted Roof last month of all 33 federal charges he faced, including hate crimes. He never explained his actions to jurors, saying only that "anyone who hates anything in their mind has a good reason for it".

Roof insisted he was not mentally ill and did not call any witnesses or present any evidence.