Federal appeals court refuses en banc review of Dylann Roof death sentence

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Sept. 25 (UPI) -- A federal appellate court has refused to have its full panel of judges hear the appeal of his death sentence for the murder of nine people at a Charleston, S.C., in 2015.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the en banc review in a one-page order Friday.

Roof petitioned the court earlier this month after a three-judge panel voted unanimously in August to affirm the sentence for the 2017 conviction on federal hate crime charges. The court said he killed the Black congregants with the "express intent of terrorizing, not just his immediate victims at the historically important Mother Emanuel Church, but as many similar people as would hear of the mass murder."

He sought to have the full court of 15 judges rehear the case in what's known as an en banc session. Roof's lawyers said their client's death sentence violated Supreme Court precedent because prosecutors emphasized the goodness of the nine victims.

The self-proclaimed White supremacist said he carried out the massacre because he believed it would catapult a race war in the United States.

South Carolina state Sen. Clementa Pickney, 41, who was also a pastor at the church; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Sharonda Singleton, 45; and Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, died in the attack.

A woman holding a sign stands in front of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church following services on June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. On June 17, 2015, nine people were shot and killed inside the church during Bible study. A suspect, Dylann Roof, 21, was arrested in connection with the shootings. Photo by Kevin Liles/UPI | License Photo

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