Dylann Roof expected to plead guilty in state murder trial

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Dylann Roof

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Officials with South Carolina’s 9th Judicial Circuit say they expect Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof to plead guilty in his state murder trial next month.

Roof is scheduled to enter a plea April 10 at the Charleston County Courthouse, and according to Scarlett A. Wilson, solicitor for the state’s 9th Circuit, “The plea is negotiated, which means it is ‘carved in stone.’ ”

Roof has already been sentenced to death by a federal jury for killing nine people in the June 2015 massacre at a historically black church in Charleston.

Before he was sentenced in federal court in January, Roof told the jury he still felt he had no choice but to kill the church members gathered at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

“In my confession to the FBI I told them that I had to do it, and obviously that’s not really true. … I didn’t have to do anything,” Roof said as he made his own five-minute closing argument in the penalty phase of his federal trial. “But what I meant when I said that was, I felt like I had to do it, and I still do feel like I had to do it.”

Roof will become the first federal hate crime defendant to be sentenced to death, according to the US Justice Department.

Because Roof has agreed to a guilty plea in state court, prosecutors won’t present any additional evidence, Wilson said.

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

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

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