Dylann Roof escapes death penalty in second trial

All through the painful first trial of convicted mass murderer Dylann Roof, observers were keenly aware that the story wasn’t going to end there. That was his trial on federal charges, for which he was given the death penalty. But there was still a state trial to come. Now that ugly drama will no longer be taking place. The state has accepted a plea deal with Roof’s attorneys which will see him plead guilty to all charges and take a sentence of life with no parole, but escape the death penalty. (Washington Post)

Dylann Roof, the self-described white supremacist sentenced to death earlier this year for the Charleston church massacre, will plead guilty next month to murder charges in a separate state trial, attorneys said Friday…

In a letter to families of the victims, Scarlett A. Wilson, the prosecutor overseeing Roof’s case in state court, told them that Roof, now 22, had agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life in prison.

“The plea is negotiated which means it is ‘carved in stone,’” Wilson wrote in the letter Friday, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

Wilson described this as “an insurance policy to the federal conviction and sentence,” writing that her goal was to get a guilty plea so that Roof could be moved into federal custody. Roof is currently being held in Charleston County’s detention center.

If this had happened during the first trial there would have been justifiable outrage all over the country. Even those who are a bit queasy over the idea of capital punishment surely would have had to consider it for this monster. But given the stage of the proceedings we’re in now, this was probably the smartest course of action for the prosecutor and her team. Just from the human suffering angle, does the Charleston community really need to be put through all of this yet again, ripping scabs off of wounds which are mostly likely still not fully healed?

In terms of the legal questions, it’s difficult to see what we stand to lose by letting Roof cop to this and take life without parole. He is already appealing the death sentence he received on the federal charges and if that appeal is somehow granted, he would almost certainly get the same result challenging the state’s sentence if he’d gotten the death penalty there as well. Plus, even if the federal case were to fall apart at some point during the appeals process (unlikely in the extreme, but we have to consider the possibility) he can’t get out from under this guilty plea. At a bare minimum he dies in jail either way.

Frankly, I’m still hoping that the appeals process goes through relatively quickly and doesn’t result in any sort of changes. As I’ve been saying from the beginning, some people simply need to die and Dylann Roof is one of them. This little monster is beyond redemption by any but the Lord and to this day shows no remorse for what he did. I don’t care if he’s mentally ill in some fashion or not. It’s time to put the beast down and be done with it.

And what if we didn’t? Then Roof becomes yet another touchstone in the ongoing social justice warrior circus. South Carolina has executed 43 people since capital punishment was reinstated in 1985. All of those criminals were convicted of murder and many of them were guilty of far less mass carnage than Dylann Roof. Failing to carry though on this would raise immediate questions in the media as to whether or not Roof somehow “got off easy” because he was a white man killing black people. Everything about this case is a nightmare and it could be dragged on in public debate forever. As things stand now, Roof will be getting a cleaner death than any of his victims received and it will, at long last, put a very definite end to this horrible story.