The New York Times reports that the Justice Department is seeking the death penalty in the trial of Dylann Roof, who killed nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.:
“Following the department’s rigorous review process to thoroughly consider all relevant factual and legal issues, I have determined that the Justice Department will seek the death penalty,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement about the case against Mr. Roof, who was arrested less than a day after the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historic and predominantly black congregation.
“The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm,” Ms. Lynch continued, “compelled this decision.”
In a separate seven-page filing in Federal District Court in Charleston, prosecutors cited nine aggravating factors, including that Mr. Roof had “expressed hatred and contempt towards African-Americans, as well as other groups, and his animosity towards African-Americans played a role in the murders charged in the indictment.”
The prosecutors also wrote that Mr. Roof had “demonstrated a lack of remorse” and that he had “targeted men and women participating in a Bible study group at the church in order to magnify the societal impact” of the attack.
From the Washington Post:
Steve Schmutz, a lawyer representing family members of three of the victims, said federal officials held a conference call on Tuesday to inform relatives of the decision. Schmutz said he believed these relatives supported Lynch’s decision.
“Regardless of whether or not you’re for the death penalty, the thought process is this: where else would you have it, if not for here?” Schmutz said.
One of those who lost a loved one affirms Schmutz’s words:
Arthur Hurd, whose wife, 55-year-old Cynthia Hurd, was among the victims, said he thought seeking the death penalty was a “good idea” given the motivation Roof had expressed.
“Since he feels that strongly, then let the law of the land take care of it,” Hurd said.
Hurd said Cynthia, a branch manager at a library, “went out of her way and helped everybody that she can.” On Tuesday, after learning of the government’s decision, Hurd said seeing Roof executed would not bring him any closure. Only a face-to-face conversation with Roof might do that, Hurd said. “Maybe I can get the feeling that, ‘Hey, what in the world were you thinking about?’” he said.
Still, he offered one other thing that he said could help him. “I told them what would really bring me to a point of happiness would be that I was the one that pushed the plunger if he got injected,” Hurd said.
Previous Cafe coverage of the shootings in Charleston:
Photo credit: By Cal Sr from Newport, NC, US – Colour-corrected version of File:Emanuel_African_Methodist_Episcopal_(AME)_Church.jpg, originally from here