Convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof was given nine consecutive life sentences in state prison after he pleaded guilty to state murder charges Monday, leaving him to await execution in a federal prison and sparing his victims and their families the burden of a second trial.
Judge J.C. Nicholson imposed the sentences following a hearing in which church members and Roof’s grandfather testified about the personal toll of the case.
But before sentencing Roof, Nicholson heard members of historically black Emanuel AME Church describe the toll the shooting took on them and their community.
“The impact at Mother Emanuel has been far reaching,” said Pastor Eric Manning, who currently leads Emanuel’s congregation. “We visit the crime scene every day.”
Blondelle Gadsden, sister of slain Myra Thompson, said, “Even though we’re at a point where death has been the sentence for him, my heart still goes out to him in hopes that he would repent to save himself from himself. I can’t think of anything worse that he could do at this point than to not accept Christ and try to make his days on this earth a little bit more peaceful.”
But Eva Dilligard, whose sister Susie Jackson was slain by Roof, said, “I think somebody doing something like that, he should get death. … I’m very sorry. I’m a child of God. But he hurt the entire family.”
The judge also heard from Roof’s grandfather, Columbia attorney Joe Roof.
“I want everyone to understand that nothing is all bad, and Dylann is not all bad,” the elder Roof said. He added that he and his wife pray for the Emanuel families every night, and are sensitive to their problems.
“We have been distressed and just sick over what has happened to these families,” the grandfather said.