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Dylann Roof wants conviction, death sentence overturned

In 2017, he became the first person in the United States to be sentenced to death for a federal hate crime

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Dylann Roof, who killed nine Black churchgoers in Charleston in 2015, wants his conviction and sentence overturned.
By: Alyssa Wilson

Dylann Roof, the man on death row for killing nine Black churchgoers in a South Carolina church, wants his conviction and death sentence overturned. According to the Associated Press, Roof will stand before a three-judge panel Tuesday in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  

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On June 17, 2015, Roof entered the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. He was welcomed into the building by churchgoers who were having Bible study and after the event ended, he shot and killed nine Black members of the congregation. 

Roof’s attorneys argue that an appellate court should remove the convictions and sentence, or take his case back to court for a “proper competency evaluation.” They say their client’s mental illness should have prevented him from serving as his own attorney during a portion of the trial and being sentenced to death.  

When U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel held two competency hearings for Roof, he was found to be capable. Despite the ruling, defense experts said he suffered from delusions that victors of a race war would rescue him. However, after his trial, he was sentenced to nine consecutive life sentences and he is awaiting execution in federal prison. 

RELATED: House passes bills to expand background checks, close ‘Charleston loophole’ in gun purchases
Representative James Clyburn proposed the “Enhanced Background Checks Act” to extend the length of FBI background checks for gun purchases. The bill would also close the Charleston loophole, named after Roof’s act of violence. “If people can’t be safe in bible study, then they can’t be safe anywhere,” Clyburn said.