Dylann Roof pleads guilty to state charges in church massacre

Dylann Roof

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Dylann Roof, who shot to death nine people in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to state charges in the killings.

Roof was sentenced to death in January by a federal jury for the June 2015 massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The deal reached in the Charleston County Courthouse includes a life sentence. It means no state trial or sentencing phase will be necessary.

The federal death sentence stands.

“A guilty plea in state court means that if something very, very, very unlikely were to happen at the federal level, the state sentence would take effect and he would serve life in prison. (And no more trials!),” Scarlett A. Wilson, solicitor for the state’s 9th Judicial Circuit, wrote to victims’ families last week.

Roof headed to federal death row

Roof became the 63rd person on federal death row. He is expected to be transferred to a facility in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Roof told investigators in a recorded interview that he committed the crime because “black people are killing white people every day.”

At the federal trial, Assistant US Attorney Jay Richardson said the admitted white supremacist scouted out his target multiple times, and sat with the church group in a Bible study class for 40 minutes before shooting. Richardson said Roof pulled the trigger “more than 75 times … reloading seven times” as he stood over his victims, shooting them repeatedly.