Dylann Roof, Charleston church shooter, given 9 life sentences after guilty plea

Dylann Roof, who gunned down nine people in the basement of a historically black church in Charleston in 2015, pleaded guilty to murder charges at a SC state court.

After the sentencing, victims' family members and prosecutors spoke to the media.

The 23-year-old Roof entered his plea Monday to all state charges against him, including nine counts of murder.

With a new administration in Washington, Wilson said she's more confident that a federal death sentence will be carried out.

"The impact to the church has been far-reaching", the church's pastor, the Rev. Eric Manning, said in court.

Since 1988, when the federal death penalty was reinstated, 76 defendants in the United States have been sentenced to death and three prisoners have been executed, according to the center's website. In her remarks, Nadine Collier (whose mother, Ethel Lance, was among those killed by Roof) responded to Roof's admission that the attack was meant to start a "race war". "We visit the crime scene every day".

Joseph Roof, the shooter's grandfather and a longtime lawyer in Columbia, was the only person at court who spoke for his grandson.

The senior Roof told the court Roof's family has been "distressed and just sick" over what happened, adding that he and his wife pray for the families every night. She taught me to trust in God since I was a child and that is what I will continue to do.

"I want everyone to understand that nothing is all bad, and Dylann is not all bad", the elder Roof said. "We're just as sorry as we can be that this happened".

The self-avowed white supremacist was unapologetic at his federal trial as he listened to days of testimony from survivors.

The deal reached in the Charleston County Courthouse includes a life sentence.

State Sen. Gerald Malloy, a friend of State Sen. and the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, also addressed the court, reading a Bible verse.

The action was largely a formality, since Roof had already been sentenced to death at the beginning of the year following his conviction in federal court on murder and other related charges.

"I still feel like I had to do it", Roof told jurors in his closing argument in January.

Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson announced Roof's state plea agreement March 31. Charleston attorney Andy Savage, who represents several of the families, said the arrangement to transfer Roof to a federal institution and away from Charleston "is the preference of all victims that I represent".

  • Larry Hoffman