Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Conviction and Sentence of Mother Emanuel Church Shooter Uphehld

In United States v. Roof, (4th Cir., Aug. 25, 2021), the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 149-page opinion, affirmed the hate crime and obstructing religion convictions of Dylan Roof who shot and killed nine members of Charleston, South Carolina's Mother Emanuel Church who were attending a Bible study group. Roof's attorneys raised 19 separate issues on appeal. The court concluded that proof of religious hostility is not required for a conviction under the religious obstruction statute, 18 USC § 247(a)(2). It also concluded that Congress did not exceed its powers under the 13th Amendment when it enacted the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, 18 U.S.C. § 249. The court also upheld the death sentence imposed, saying in part:

No cold record or careful parsing of statutes and precedents can capture the full horror of what Roof did. His crimes qualify him for the harshest penalty that a just society can impose. We have reached that conclusion not as a product of emotion but through a thorough analytical process, which we have endeavored to detail here. In this, we have followed the example of the trial judge, who managed this difficult case with skill and compassion for all concerned, including Roof himself.

ABC reports on the decision.