Dylann Roof To Plead Guilty To State Murder Charges

Dylann Roof, the white supremacist already sentenced to death for killing several people in a 2015 church massacre, will plead guilty to state charges as part of a plea agreement.

Roof, 22, had befriended members of the predominately black Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, when on June 17, 2015, he shot nine parishioners dead. He was later convicted in federal court and sentenced to die.

The latest case against Roof stems from initial state charges against him. He was charged in Charleston County with nine counts of first-degree murder and illegal possession of a firearm two days after the massacre. A few weeks later, prosecutors added three counts of attempted murder for each shooting survivor.

Roof’s case drew massive media attention, and prompted South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to urge prosecutors to seek the death penalty.

A grand jury indicted Roof on a total of 33 federal charges, including 24 hate crimes, 18 of which carry the death penalty. At the direction of his attorney, Roof pleaded not guilty to the federal charges while prosecutors decided whether to seek capital punishment, a sentence he was already facing in the state court.

Dylann Roof later became the first person in the the United States to face a state and federal death penalty simultaneously.

Roof’s attorney unsuccessfully argued that the federal death penalty request was unconstitutional, and jury selection began Sept. 26, 2016. More than 2,900 potential jurors were pooled. Trial was then delayed by two months after the court ordered Roof to undergo a psychological evaluation and a competency hearing. Roof was declared competent to stand trial Nov. 25, 2016.

The case took another twist when Dylann Roof fired his attorneys and prepared to begin his murder trial as his own lawyer. He changed his mind less than two weeks later, and his federal trial began Dec. 7.

On Dec. 15, Roof was found guilty of all 33 charges.

Roof again motioned to fire his court-appointed lawyers and represent himself in the sentencing phase of the murder proceedings. On Jan. 11, he was sentenced to die by lethal injection.

The sentencing came five months after Dylann Roof was beaten by a fellow inmate while being held at the Charleston County Detention Center. Roof did not sustain life-threatening injuries in the attack. The attacker was later identified a 25-year-old Dwayne Marion Stafford, a black man who was awaiting trial in a robbery case. Stafford escaped his cell into an area where Dylann Roof was being held in protective custody in order to carry out the beating. Roof did not file charges against Stafford after the incident, and Stafford was later released on bond.

As part of the plea agreement in the state case, Roof will forgo a trail and be sentenced to life in prison, removing the previous request for the death penalty, according to ABC News.

“The federal trial was very satisfactory for me,” Emmanuel Reverend Anthony Thompson, whose wife was killed in the attack, told Reuters. “I’m not dealing with this anymore. I’m not concerned with Dylann Roof. I’m praying for him and that is it.”

Sentencing is scheduled for April 10.

Meanwhile, a 29-year-old man who also claimed to be a white supremacist, faces federal charges after confessing to a FBI employee that he wished to carryout a Dylann-Roof copycat massacre.

Benjamin McDowell, who has no ties to Roof, told the undercover agent that he was seeking a gun to do a shooting because other white supremacists were failing to act against minorities. He also turned to Facebook to disseminate his message, telling his followers he was “born to be like Dyalnn Roof,” according to Salon.

“.. it takes a team, it takes no drugs and party and more planning for the real Victory and not just saying it but should want Bloodshet 2,” McDowell posted. “Crave it and be a fanatic for your white race.”

[Featured Image by Getty]