Malcolm Graham’s coastal hometown may have forgiven. But he hasn’t.
The former Mecklenburg County state senator, now a grieving brother, is scheduled to testify Friday in a court hearing to determine whether convicted mass murderer Dylann Roof will spend the rest of his life in prison or be put to death.
Graham, whose big sister Cynthia Hurd was of the nine victims Roof gunned down during a June 2015 prayer service at historic Emanuel AME Church, has strong feelings on the appropriate punishment.
While some loved ones of the dead have said they have forgiven Roof and that his life should be spared, and others have expressed mixed emotions about capital punishment being used in this case, Graham has said repeatedly that the 22-year-old Roof deserves to die.
“If the death penalty is not applicable in this case, I think you should take it off the books,” he told the Observer a few days before the start of the trial last month.
Graham is scheduled to be called to the witness stand on Friday morning. He said this week that he has been told he will testify for a half hour or more.
He is expected to talk about Hurd, whom he has affectionately described as the “nerd” of his family due to her lifelong love of books and a long career as a librarian in her native Charleston.
In all, more than three dozen witnesses – some survivors of the shooting, most grieving the loss of loved ones – are expected to speak on behalf of the dead before the jury begins deliberations next week to decide Roof’s fate.
The defendant, who is representing himself in this phase of his trial, has said little besides assuring the jury that he is mentally fit. He previously told authorities he killed the church members to start a race war. According to his jailhouse diary, which was read in court, Roof also made it clear he is not sorry for what he has done.
Graham has said it’s impossible for him to forgive a killer who has shown no remorse.
“He has doubled-down on hatred in my perspective,” Graham said last month. “To say I forgive … I’m not sure there is a way to forgive hatred and discrimination and racism. I’m not there, and I probably can never get there.”
Roof’s trial in Charleston on state murder charges is scheduled to begin in two weeks. He also faces the death penalty there.