State prosecutors in the case of 21-year-old Dylann Roof, the young American white skinned man who killed black members of a bible class as they prayed, said from the outset of the trial that they would seek the death penalty.
Tuesday January 10, 2017 Dylann Roof was told he would be put to death.
The prosecutors made the decision to seek the death penalty after a series of meetings with survivors and victim's family members and because more than two people were killed in the deadly attack.
But none of the friends and family who spoke during the sentencing phase of the trial asked for the death penalty.
Nine people were murdered at the Emanuel AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church in June 2015. They were callously shot by Dylan Roof.
Roof penned a racist manifesto prior to the gun massacre which led some to question why he was not charged with a hate crime or with domestic terrorism.
But the mass shooting was in South Carolina, a state that has no hate crime laws.
Roof's father bought his son a gun for his 21st birthday and he now has to live with what happened next.
Roof was found guilty in December and then dismissed his legal team. He represented himself as sentencing began.
Tuesday a jury of 10 women and two men recommended the death penalty for all 18 counts that had a possible death sentence attached.
At around 9.30am Wednesday Judge Richard Gergel will formally sentence Roof.
Now it seems Roof wants to file a motion for new lawyers and for a retrial The judge may not agree.
After a prosecutor's "impassioned, two-hour argument in a Charleston courtroom urging jurors to give Roof the death penalty instead of their other option, life in prison without possibility of parole" Roof reportedly said:
"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." .
According to CNN that means "he also suggested he'd like to be spared."
Roof's father bought his son a gun for his 21st birthday and he now has to live with what happens next.
The trial date is set for July 11, 2016; a court filing released Thursday makes it plain if found guilty Roof could face the death penalty.
Dylann Roof Judge replaced after previous racist comments
Dylann Roof hears victims families at bond hearing
State police watched her climb shouting at her ""Ma'am come down off the pole" but she did not until she had removed the flag.
She and a male companion, James Ian Tyson, 30, were then promptly arrested and the flag returned to the pole within 45 minutes but it was probably good publicity for the two campaigns, the one to keep the flag and the one to get rid of it once and for all.
The Rev Jesse Jackson Sr Tweeted “We thank God that @BreeNewsome had the courage to take the flag down! #KeepItDown #FreeBree."
Charged with defacing a monument on state Capitol grounds, a misdemeanour charge, she could face a fine of up to $5,000 or a prison term of up to three years or both.
The flag is protected by State law but this English woman feels it is a pity the lives of black worshippers brutally shot June 17 were not deemed as valuable.
U.S. President Obama did what some would say he does best Friday and made an eloquent and heartfelt address at the funeral of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a personal friend of his, who was one of the victims in the Charleston Church killings of June 17.
Obama sang lines from Amazing Grace showing why in so many ways he is an amazing but perhaps divisive US leader. It is hard to image UK PM David Cameron having anything like the common touch needed for such a funeral address and vocal performance.
The President's words were meaningful for those prepared to listen and he did touch on the confederate flag.
"For many — black and white — that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation. We see that now," Obama said but some will not view it that way.
But Chief Magistrate James Gosnell has been replaced for previous racist comments.
LA Times reports "On Nov. 6, 2003, Gosnell presided over a bond reduction hearing for a defendant that he knew. The judge also acknowledged that he knew the defendant’s father and grandfather, according to court papers."
The report continues "According to the state ruling, Gosnell at the hearing “recalled a statement made to him by a veteran African American sheriff’s deputy that ‘there are four kinds of people in this world — black people, white people, rednecks, and n—’ "."
In court Saturday the judge said “We have victims, nine of them. But we also have victims on the other side. They’re victims on this young man’s side of the family. Nobody would have ever have thrown them into the whirlwind of events that they’ve been thrown into. We must find it in our heart at some point in time not only to help those that are victims but to also help his family as well.”
That is unprecedented and unheard of if the alleged shooter was white and the victims black.
But of course in such a scenario it is doubtful the alleged shooter would have made it to court. He would likely have been shot dead in a 'police shoot-out'.
With so many judges to choose from how come this appointment was made? How could the choice be more wrong?
How come the USA has a black man as President but in many ways or parts of the country remains as bigoted and racist as ever?
Will the victims of the shooter get justice?
Related at ABC News - Authorities Investigating Website, Purported Manifesto Connected to Dylann Roof
President Obama has faced some criticism after making a moving and emotional speech following the killings. He has been criticised for centring on the trouble with guns in the USA and not the race issue. But the latter could easily fan the flames of racial hatred and be self-defeating.
As Roof reportedly wanted to start a new race war it could have also played into his hands.
But Saturday President Obama faced the race-card head on saying "Racism remains "a blight" on society" reports BBC News.
Trying once again to address America's gun issues could and should lead to positive change. But that will take the will of the people and right now too many in the USA are still in love with their guns and it is a bog money-making industry.
In late 2012 a shooter killed 20 children and 6 adults at a Connecticut School, in the USA, before killing himself. Many words were written and spoken following that tragedy but little changed regarding guns in real terms.
Some gun proponents opted to believe that Sandy Hook did not happen and it was a government staged event to cut gun possession in the USA.
As an English woman I find it both crazy and sad that Roof was bought his gun for his 21st birthday months ago. Is that the best gift a loved one can come up with? Is that the most wanted gift as you traditionally enter manhood? If the answer to both is yes we are all doomed.
A friend of Roof's told the Daily News he had taken the .45 Glock away from Roof two weeks ago after Roof went on a drunken, bigoted rant about segregation and killing people. His friend also said he had been planning 'something big' for months.
All the warning signs were there but ignored.
He had allegedly considered turning the gun on himself after the murders but instead went on the run briefly.
Those killed at the bible class Wednesday were aged between 27 and 87.
Roof has reportedly confessed to the killings and has made his first court appearance.
Friday he listened to victims' families as he appeared via video link at his bond hearing. ABC reports "I forgive you,” the daughter of victim Ethel Lance said through tears. “You hurt me, you hurt a lot of people.” Felicia Sanders, the mother of the slain Tywanza Sanders, said, "We welcomed you Wednesday night in our bible study with open arms."
"Every fiber in my body hurts," Sanders said. "And I'll never be the same. Tywanza Sanders was my son. But he was my hero. But as we said at bible study, may God have mercy on you." He showed no emotion.
He could face the death penalty in South Carolina.
Perhaps the most fitting sentence will be a whole-life term in jail. That could after all be a living death and give this young man plenty of time to consider his murderous activity and bigotry.