Few hates crimes have been as blatant and horrifying in recent years than the massacres of black churchgoers carried out by Dylann Roof in Charleston, South Carolina.
Roof, a self-declared racist, appeared to make every effort to be sentenced to death. He declined the representation of an attorney. Instead, he representing himself. After his conviction for the murders of nine worshippers at a historically black church, Roof sought to convince jurors of his sanity, reported the New York Post. He was sentenced to death in January.
Roof was initially represented by defense lawyer David Bruck who said there was no question that Roof committed the murders but questioned his mental sanity. A finding of insanity would have spared Roof the death penalty.
Roof told the federal jury in Charleston there is nothing psychologically wrong with him. He even distanced himself from his lawyer’s remarks.
“If you happen to remember anything that my lawyer said, I ask that you forget it,” Roof said, according to accounts posted by news reporters on Twitter.
Federal prosecutor Nathan Williams made the case for Roof to be executed for his murderous rampage during a Bible study session at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in 2015.
Roof was charged with federal hate crimes. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch accused him of seeking to “carry out these twin goals of fanning racial flames and exacting revenge.”
Lynch said Roof sought to murder African-Americans because of their race. He deliberately targeted an African-American church to ensure his notoriety, according to ABC news.
A 33-count indictment charged Roof with the nine murders along with three attempted murders at the Charleston church under federal hate crime laws.
Texas has a hate crime statute. In a recent blog post, we described moves to extend it to police officers in Texas.
Not all offenses charged as hate crimes are as blatant or clear cut as those of Dylann Roof. We see many instances in Texas in which the victim may be of a classification covered in the hate crimes legislation but was not targeted due to that characteristic.
Often prosecutions that are brought under Texas’ hate crimes statute do not end up in hate crime convictions.
If you have been charged with a crime of this nature, it’s vital that you call a Tarrant County criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call (682) 204-4066.