16 Dec 2016

South Carolina church shooter found guilty

10:26 am on 16 December 2016

White supremacist Dylann Roof has been found guilty of 33 charges regarding a shooting at a historic South Carolina church that left nine people dead last year.

Dylann Roof

Dylann Roof Photo: AFP

A jury found Roof, a 22-year-old self-avowed white supremacist, guilty on Thursday local time of federal hate crimes resulting in the deaths of the nine black parishioners.

He was also found guilty of firearms violations and obstructing the exercise of religion for those he shot and killed during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015.

Six women and three men, including the church pastor, were killed.

Survivors said after the shooting that Roof had spent close to an hour attending a church service on Wednesday before opening fire.

The 12 jurors deliberated for a little under two hours after six days of testimony. Roof showed no emotion as the verdicts were read.

The guilty verdicts on all 33 charges he faced pave the way for the penalty phase of Roof's trial. He has indicated he will serve as his own lawyer as prosecutors pursue a death sentence.

The 19th Century Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is one of the oldest in the US.

Denmark Vesey - one of the church's founders - was a leader of a failed slave revolt in 1822.

The church's pastor Clementa Pinckney was also a Democrat state senator, and had recently sponsored a bill to make body cameras mandatory for all officers in the state after unarmed black man Walter Scott was shot by police.

A bystander filmed Mr Scott, who was fleeing patrolman Michael Slager, being shot five times.

A jury of 11 white people and one black man could not reach a verdict this month in the trial of the officer, leading to a mistrial.

- Reuters

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