- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 15, 2016

A South Carolina jury on Thursday convicted Dylann Roof of federal hate crimes and other charges stemming from a racially motivated mass shooting that killed nine black churchgoers.

The verdict, reached about about two hours of deliberation, is only the first milestone of the case — the jury will reconvene early next year to consider whether Roof should get the death penalty for the 2015 attack.

The 22-year-old white man gunned down nine members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina after attending a Bible study with the group. Prosecutors said the white supremacist, who blamed blacks for wrongs committed against whites in society, had hoped his attack would would fuel a race war.

Roof confessed to the killings, and his legal team acknowledged his guilt during the trial. Attorneys called to witnesses for his defense, instead seeking to portray the gunman as a disaffected, delusional loner who got caught up in racist ideals and conspiracy theories he found online.

Roof, who did not take the stand in his own defense, is expected to act as his own attorney when the penalty phase of the trial begins on Jan. 3.

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