ABOVE PHOTO: Felicia Sanders, survivor of the Mother Emanuel Church shooting in Charleston, SC., and Polly Sheppard, survivor of the Mother Emanuel Church shooting in Charleston, SC., speak during the third day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
By Meg Kinnard
CHARLESTON, S.C. — After four days of testimony and three hours of deliberations, a South Carolina jury voted to give convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof the death penalty on Tuesday.
More than two dozen people shared heartwarming stories about each of the nine people Roof killed in the 2015 attack at Emanuel AME Church during the trial’s penalty phase, which ended Monday. Witnesses also talked about the heartrending tales of loss in the wake of the deaths.
Roof, 22, was convicted last month on 33 federal charges, including hate crimes and obstruction of religion. The same jury that found him guilty was tasked with deciding between the death penalty or life in prison.
As he promised earlier in the trial, Roof – who is represented himself – rested his case without calling witnesses or presenting any evidence on his own behalf.
Jennifer Pinckney was the government’s first witness, testifying about the life of her husband, church pastor and state Sen. Clementa Pinckney. She also spoke about the harrowing minutes she spent huddled underneath a desk with her youngest daughter as shots rang out in the next room, unsure if the shooter was coming her way.
Survivor Felicia Sanders, who also gave powerful testimony during the guilt phase of Roof’s trial, wrapped up prosecutors’ case at sentencing, talking about her creative, 26-year-old son, the youngest victim, and his commitment to his faith and Emanuel.
“That night they were getting basic instruction before leaving Earth,” Sanders said. “I did not know that was going to be the life of them.”