As Dylann Roof showed no pity for Malcolm Graham’s sister, Graham showed no pity Tuesday for the 22-year-old Columbia man after he was sentenced to death.
After deliberating for less than three hours, a 12-member jury – three whites, nine blacks – chose capital punishment for the white supremacist for his June 2015 massacre of nine people in the basement of historic Emanuel AME Zion Church in Charleston. Cynthia Hurd, Graham’s big sister, was one of the victims.
The jurors had the option of sending Roof to prison for the rest of his life. Moments after the verdict was announced, Graham told the Observer that the jurors had made the right call.
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“There is no room for hatred, racism and discrimination in a civilized society. There’s no room for hatred, racism and discrimination in America’s smallest jail cell,” Graham said by phone from Charlotte. “This is an appropriate decision based on the severity of the crime.”
Roof, the grandson of a prominent Columbia lawyer, has shown no remorse and said he hoped to start a race war with the killings at the African-American church.
Graham’s family has been affiliated with “Mother Emanuel” for more than 60 years, and Hurd, a Charleston librarian, remained an active member.
Roof was convicted of the nine hate crimes last month. Called as a witness Friday in the penalty phase of the killer’s trial, Graham, a former Charlotte City Council member and state senator, testified for about 45 minutes without ever looking at Roof, who sat impassively at the defense table no more than 30 feet away.
“There was nothing to look at,” Graham said. “My responsibility on Friday was to talk about how Cynthia lived and how she died. There was no need for me to engage him in any way.”