Sept. 9 (UPI) — Dylann Roof on Wednesday asked a federal appeals court to review a smaller panel’s ruling upholding his death sentence for the murder of nine people at a Charleston, S.C., church in 2015.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted unanimously in August to affirm the sentence for his 2017 conviction on federal hate crime charges. The court said he killed the Black congregants with the “express intent of terrorizing, not just his immediate victims at the historically important Mother Emanuel Church, but as many similar people as would hear of the mass murder.”
He now wants the full court of 15 judges to rehear the case in an en banc session. Roof’s lawyers said their client’s death sentence violated Supreme Court precedent because prosecutors emphasized the goodness of the nine victims.
“The panel’s decision conflicts with this precedent, opening the door to death sentences based on victims’ goodness and worth,” the court filing reads. “Especially troubling, it sanctions reliance on victims’ religiosity as evidence of that heightened worth.”
The self-proclaimed White supremacist said he carried out the massacre because he believed it would catapult a race war in the United States.
South Carolina state Sen. Clementa Pickney, 41, who was also a pastor at the church; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Sharonda Singleton, 45; and Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, died in the attack.