Dylann Roof, the admitted white supremacist who murdered nine Black church goers in 2015, will reportedly plead guilty in his state trial to avoid the death penalty.
Convicted of 33 federal charges relating to the fatal shootings in January, Roof is expected to take a plea deal for state charges on Friday, April 10, which will result in a lifetime prison sentence. In a jailhouse journal uncovered at his federal conviction earlier this year, Roof wrote, “I do not regret” killing worshipers at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, who works in the 9th Circuit, had been pursuing the death penalty for nine state murder charges, but she told the victims’ family members Friday, March 31, that Roof would take the plea deal instead.
“I write with great news that the State’s case is ready to wrap up,” Wilson said in a letter acquired by The Post and Courier. “As I told you toward the end of trial and in other updates, at this point, our goal is to provide an insurance policy to the federal conviction and sentence. The most effective way to do that is to secure a guilty plea for a life sentence and get the defendant into federal custody.”
Wilson told the Charleston newspaper Roof’s plea deal nixes the death penalty as an option and helps land him in federal prison.
Ashley Pennington, Roof’s public defender, confirmed to The Post and Courier that all the information in Wilson’s letter was accurate.
After the victims’ relatives learned of the decision, many were pleased as they had previously expressed an unfavorable view of the death penalty based on their religion.
“I’m feeling glad we don’t have to endure another trial,” Rev. Sharon Risher, whose mother was killed in Roof’s attack, told The Post and Courier. “I believe in my heart that this is the right thing to do. He won’t ever be able to step outside again. He won’t ever feel the sun on his skin again.”
Shooting survivor Felicia Sanders told Attorney Andy Savage, who represents many of the survivors and victims’ relatives, “Praise God,” Savage related to the paper.
“They’re all pleased,” Savage said. “The great thing is, they don’t have to worry. It’s a great insurance policy. It’s what they’ve been hoping for.”