As Charlestonians come together to find strength after tragedy, the man who confessed to causing their trauma has a very different future in store. Let's take a second to get caught up on what's happening with Dylann Storm Roof.
The 21-year-old stands accused of opening fire on the congregants of a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., on Jun. 17. The massacre took the lives of nine churchgoers, including Emanuel AME pastor and state Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney.
Roof was apprehended by police on Thursday following a manhunt that ended in Shelby, N.C. According to the Los Angeles Times (by way of Gawker), the avowed white supremacist reportedly planned to take his own life after the shooting, and only ran once he learned he didn't have enough bullets.
On Friday, the state of South Carolina charged Roof with nine counts of murder and one count of weapons possession. His first day in court, a bail hearing, was held at North Charleston's Centralized Bond Hearing Court that same day.
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The hearing was presided over by Charleston County Magistrate James Gosnell, Jr., who sparked controversy by calling Roof's family members "victims" in the same breath as those who were killed in the shooting. (It was also later discovered that he had used the N-word during a trial in 2003.) To the relief of many, Gosnell will not oversee Roof's case going forward, the New York Daily News reports; that role will be filled by Circuit Court Judge J.C. Nicholson. Roof will be held at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston during the proceedings, according to Salt Lake City's KUTV.
The federal government is also conducting an investigation into the shooting, separate from the state's. While federal authorities are pursuing the case as a possible hate crime, FBI director James Comey announced in Baltimore on Saturday that the bureau would not classify the killings as an act of terror. Per Tulsa's KTUL:
Terrorism is act of violence done or threatens to in order to try to influence a public body or citizenry so it's more of a political act and again based on what I know so more I don't see it as a political act. Doesn't make it any less horrific the label but terrorism has a definition under federal law.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley told NBC's Today on Friday that the state would push for the death penalty, which is legal in South Carolina.
Roof's case is quite different than most death penalty cases that have ended in conviction in the state. As ACLU Legal Director Susan Dunn told Fusion last week:
When you look at the whole history of the death penalty in South Carolina, it’s unfortunately the same kind of history you find anywhere in the Deep South. It’s poor people of color for whom the death penalty has had the biggest blow, when you look at how it’s actually been applied.
South Carolina has executed 43 people, nearly all men, since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977, the Death Penalty Information Center says. The majority of the cases that ended in convictions involved white victims (73 percent). Only 12 percent involved white defendants and black victims, like Roof's case.
Dunn also told Fusion that should Roof get sent to a maximum security prison, he would probably end up in the state capital of Columbia. "It's pretty grim," she added.
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