Charleston: Self-proclaimed white supremacist Dylann Roof was convicted on Thursday of killing nine African Americans inside a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.
In the next phase of the trial, scheduled to begin in January, jurors will weigh whether Roof, 22, should be sentenced to death or spend the rest of his life in prison, CNN reported.
Deliberations began on Thursday afternoon in Roof’s murder trial after attorneys made closing arguments.
Shortly after deliberations started, the jury asked to again watch the video in which Roof confessed to two FBI agents. Specifically, the jury wanted to see the portion where Roof was unsure of how many people he had killed in the June 2015 massacre.
Roof, 22, has admitted to last year’s killings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Prosecutors presented Roof as a “cold and calculating” killer. Jurors saw a witness whose son was killed sobbing on the stand. They heard an FBI agent read a series of Roof’s racist writings. And they watched a video of Roof laughing after admitting he killed the victims.
The defence did not call any witnesses, and Roof did not testify.
In a statement, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said: “It is my hope that the survivors, the families, and the people of South Carolina can find some peace in the fact that justice has been served.”
The Southern Poverty Law Centre, in praising the verdict, said Roof “represents the modern face of domestic terrorism: the extremist who acts alone after being radicalised online.”
“When Roof searched ‘black on white crime’, he found a flood of white supremacist propaganda. Once hard to access, that propaganda is now just a few keystrokes away from anyone, anywhere, who has access to the Internet,” President Richard Cohen said in the statement.
“Counternarratives that expose the lies behind the propaganda often don’t make the first page of search results. It’s a problem we must address.”