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Judge To Formally Hand Down Death Sentence For S.C. Church Shooter

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Last night, jurors in South Carolina unanimously voted to give Dylann Roof the death penalty. The self-described white supremacist murdered nine black parishioners at a Charleston church in 2015. South Carolina Public Radio's Alexandra Olgin reports.

ALEXANDRA OLGIN, BYLINE: It took the same 12 jurors who found Roof guilty of hate crimes three hours to give him the death sentence. Family members in the courtroom embraced after the long, emotional trial. Melvin Graham, the brother of victim Cynthia Graham Hurd, says there are too many senseless shootings in this country.

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MELVIN GRAHAM: I just want this to stop. I really do. I'm tired. Every time I hear about a shooting, I cry. We have to stop this.

OLGIN: Graham says he supports the death sentence for his sister's killer. During the trial, federal prosecutors repeatedly showed through Roof's writings how much he hated black people.

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GRAHAM: If Dylann Roof was named Abdul, we would call him a terrorist, and we'd say he'd been radicalized. And he was radicalized but not in the way that some people think - radicalized himself to believe this thing and felt that he had to act on it just like any other terrorist.

OLGIN: Graham has not yet forgiven Roof. He said he can't live with hate and thinks peace will come with time. Dylann Roof's family released a statement saying they will forever struggle to understand why he committed this attack. South Carolina prosecutors still plan to try Roof in state court where he also faces the death penalty. For NPR News, I'm Alexandra Olgin in Charleston.

(SOUNDBITE OF AARKTICA SONG, "WELCOME HOME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.