A US jury on Tuesday was reported to have condemned self-described white supremacist Dylann Roof to death over the massacre of nine black worshippers in a South Carolina church in June 2015.
The 22-year-old Roof was convicted last month of 33 federal charges — including hate crimes resulting in death — in connection with the shooting spree.
It happened at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston.
A Bible study group at “Mother Emanuel,” which had welcomed Roof, was said to just beginning its closing prayer when Roof opened fire. He killed nine people ranging in age from 26 to 87.
The slayings once again exposed the deep divides in America over race and access to guns.
Roof showed little reaction to the decision, delivered just hours after the 12-member jury retired to deliberate. But he occasionally seemed to be slightly smiling.
Federal judge Richard Gergel will formally deliver Roof’s sentence on Wednesday morning at the Charleston courthouse. The verdict unanimously reached by the jury is binding.
“I still feel like I had to do it,” Roof told jurors earlier in a semi-coherent closing argument.
Roof represented himself in the sentencing phase of the trial. That was against the advice of his lawyers and the judge. He later called no witnesses and offered no evidence for the jury to consider.
After the jury offered its sentencing verdict, Roof asked for new attorneys so he could move for a retrial. But Gergel told him to provide specific reasons for his request on Wednesday.
Relatives of the victims will be invited to speak at Wednesday’s hearing.