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Dylann Roof’s Death-Penalty Sentence Draws Mixed Reactions; Some Want His Life Spared

Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof.

A 12-member jury sentenced church shooter Dylann Roof, 22, to death on Tuesday, Jan. 10, for the massacre that killed nine African-American worshipers at Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Roof, who is the first person to receive the death penalty in federal court for a hate crime, carried out the racially charged attack that left the nation in shock, so the announcement of his pending execution came as a relief to many Americans who watched the heartbreaking case unfold. Still, there are some who argue that the young gunman doesn’t deserve to die but should instead be forgiven and have his life spared.

Among those calling for forgiveness were some family members of the slain victims. One after the other, the victims’ loved ones offered their final words to Roof during a court hearing Wednesday, Jan. 11, as the gunman was formally sentenced for his crime(s).

None of them condemned the shooter for his actions, telling him that they could not bring themselves to hate him for what he did, The Washington Post reported. This despite the fact that Roof offered no remorse, writing in a jailhouse journal that he wasn’t sorry for what he did.

“Yes, I forgive you,” Felicia Sanders, mother of shooting victim Tywanza Sanders, told the gunman. “That’s the easiest thing I had to do. But you can’t help someone who can’t help themselves. And that’s exactly what you are.”

Still, other loved ones offered a much harsher reaction to Roof’s lack of remorse, like Ashland Temoney, the niece of victim DePayne Middleton-Doctor, who called the gunman a “coward.”

“How can you sit here every day looking dumb-faced and acting like you did nothing?” Temoney asked. “You are the biggest coward I have seen in my life. You are the biggest coward because even today you can’t look at us.”

News of Roof’s death sentence also sparked mixed reactions among social media users who agreed that the church shooter should pay the ultimate price for the lives he took.

… and those who felt his life should be spared.

Some social media users felt that the death penalty wasn’t enough justice and suggested that Roof be forced to suffer in a jail cell for the rest of his life.

And others criticized Black Christians for being so forgiving in instances such as this, but then complaining that Blacks never get the justice they deserve.

Though Roof has already been sentenced to death by the government, he still faces a separate trial in South Carolina, where prosecutors there say they will also seek the death penalty. That trial is expected to begin later this year.

 

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