An uncommon scenario played out in a South Carolina courtroom moments after Dylann Roof entered guilty pleas on nine state-level murder charges, three state-level attempted murder charges, and one state-level gun charge.
Dylann Roof did not address the court. However, his grandfather, Joe Roof, addressed the court to describe the sorrow the Roof family feels for the victims of the tragedy. Watch the exchange above for yourself.
He mused about Sunday school classes he taught years ago and he recalled this statement: “Good people do bad things; bad people do good things.” He said “nothing is ‘all bad,’ and Dylann is not all bad.”
He also said that the shooting tore the Roof family apart. He said he wanted to express “loudly” and “repeatedly” that the family was “just as sorry as we can be that this happened.” “We regret it,” Joe Roof told the court. “It’s ruined lives, and I cannot put those back together. I’m sorry it happened.” He said he would go to his grave not understanding what happened. “I’ve lost the grandson I’ve loved very much,” he told the court.
Moments earlier, the families of the victims and the current pastor of the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church entered impact statements. Eric Manning, the current pastor, described the church’s role in the community and promised that the church would remain a place where love conquers hate. “Mr. Roof, your senseless actions did not work,” he said. Almost all of the friends and family members of the victims expressed forgiveness for the shooter.
The judge said that he hopes the guilty pleas and subsequent sentencing will allow the families of the victims to move forward. He said the shooting was a “foolish act; it’s crazy.” He went on to say that he was “extremely sorry for the victims.”
Roof was already convicted of federal hate crimes. He faces the death penalty at the federal level.
The guilty pleas on the thirteen state charges he faced resulted in nine consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole for murder The three attempted murder charges carried thirty year consecutive sentences on each count.
The judge said that he believed Roof would probably serve his time federally, though he explained that he lacked the power to determine that himself. It’s likely the Roof will be remanded to federal custody and that the federal government will accept him as a death row inmate.