A Charleston, South Carolina, jury has found Dylann Roof guilty of murdering eight people at a local church in June 2015. Roof was facing a total of 33 charges in the incident. The jury deliberated for two hours before delivering its verdict. The penalty phase of the trial will begin on January 3, 2017, when the same jury will decide if Roof should receive the death penalty.
Roof, 22, refers to himself as a white supremacist and said he committed the crime in order to start a race war. Although he did not take the stand, and his defense team did not call any witnesses, he did sit quietly and without emotion while crime scene photos were shown to the jury.
A document written by Roof and submitted as evidence indicated he chose Charleston because of its majority black population. Prosecutors said Roof became radicalized on the internet after reading propaganda on white supremacist websites.
Nikki Haley, who is the governor of South Carolina, said she hoped the guilty verdict would help Charleston to recover after the horrible crime. Richard Cohen, the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that Roof is an extremist who represents the worst of modern-day terrorism. He added that along with Charleston, the entire nation needs to heal from the terrible incident at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.