Feds to seek death penalty for Roof

BBC Roof

As you see above, some South Carolina news is leading the BBC.

Here’s John Monk’s version:

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday announced their intent to seek the death penalty against accused hate crimes Charleston church killer Dylann Roof.

“Dylann Storm Roof has expressed hatred and contempt towards African Americans, as well as other groups, as well as other groups, and his animosity towards African Americans played a role in the murders charged in the (last July’s) indictment,” the notice said.

Roof, 21, of Columbia, is white. All his victims were African American.

“Roof targeted men and women participating in a Bible-study group at the Emanuel AME Church in order to magnify the societal impact of the offenses,” the notice said.

David Bruck, one of Roof’s lawyers, said Tuesday the defense team would have no comment on the government decision….


Personally, I’m always against the death penalty. Of course, if you’re going to have one, this would seem to be the sort of case it would be designed for.

That said, and once again if you are going to have capital punishment, it seems more legitimately the province of state government, and not the feds. And certainly not for Thoughtcrime, which seems to be the federal interest in this. This is the one thing that can bring out libertarian impulses in me, especially if you’re talking about executing people for having the wrong ideas, however abhorrent.

Roof stands accused of committing a horrific, unspeakable crime upon good people who were our neighbors here in South Carolina. I think our laws, and our courts, are perfectly capable of dealing with him.

12 thoughts on “Feds to seek death penalty for Roof

    1. JesseS

      On one hand it feels like we are racism’s front yard and the Fed wants to make sure someone, anyone, gets the grass cut before the landlord shows up.

      On the other there is the feeling that everyone assumes we secretly want to give Roof a holiday and take him out for more Burger King instead of trying him.

  1. Assistant

    The term “hate crimes” is abhorrent, more so in this case. To seek the death penalty because of racial animus seems bizarre. He certainly targeted those folks because they were black, but would the crime be any less horrific had the victims been of several races, or even the same race as the perpetrator is?

    The guy murdered those folks in cold blood. That he took a loaded weapon into the church indicates that the act was premeditated. As a matter of law and logic that the victims were of another race should be immaterial as a matter of law.

    Give him a fair trial, then hang him.

    1. Assistant

      Oooo. Got a bit carried away with “as a matter of law.” Consider it merely emphasis.

  2. Bill

    I have always opposed the death penalty as a general principle. But my thinking on the issue shifted somewhat after observing my own reaction to the breaking-news report of Timothy McVeigh’s execution. Unlike previous high-profile executions, where I’d felt a sense of unease to one degree or another, in that moment I felt nothing. If anything, what came to mind was the image of the bloodied child in the fireman’s arms. As a result, I began to question whether the death penalty may be called for in an extremely limited number of cases, namely where the motivation for murder (in particular mass murder) was driven by something more than personal gain, personal animus, blood-lust, moral indifference or another impetus with no larger implication for the commonwealth as a whole. This is where what you call “thoughtcrime” may legitimately come into play. Because if it involves an ideologically-driven malevolence directed against an entire community within society (as in the Roof case) or the institutions of society in general (as in the McVeigh case), then that is, in a real sense, an attack on us all, on the body politic itself – and perhaps should be seen in a categorically different light, and judged accordingly. I’m not perfectly comfortable with this view, but I am swayed somewhat by it.

    The issue of federal vs. state prosecution doesn’t interest me.

  3. Doug Ross

    If the only other option is life in prison without parole, the death penalty is a better choice for all involved. The fact that Charles Manson has been housed, fed, and received medical care for 45 years doesn’t make us a better society in any way. Roof could potentially spend the next 50 years or more in prison. For what purpose?

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    As I said on another post

    It’s important that SOUTH CAROLINA prosecute Roof, and that the world see us doing it — just as it was essential that SOUTH CAROLINA decide to take the flag down. If some federal lawsuit or other external action had removed the flag (as some once hoped), no good would have been accomplished. It was South Carolina’s problem to deal with, and we needed to deal with it.

    Similarly, we need the experience of administering justice in this horrific crime that has struck us all to the heart. South Carolina can bring justice to bear in a way that is far more meaningful than anything the feds might do…

    This isn’t about state’s rights. This is about our state’s responsibility. This isn’t on the feds. It’s on us…

    Moreover, there’s not a single reason in the world for anyone to doubt our resolve to carry out that responsibility.

  5. Bryan Caskey

    Have there been any reports that the prosecution in the state case ruled out the death penalty? I haven’t been following it, so I honestly don’t know.

  6. Claus

    Why waste time on him, we all know he’s guilty, he’s admitted to being guilty… take him behind the courthouse and put a bullet in his head and be done with him. Instead the legal system will spend millions before giving him the needle.

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