Convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof pleaded guilty Monday to state charges including murder, sparing his victims and their families a second trial.
Roof, 23, is set to be moved to a federal prison in another state, where he will ultimately be put to death on charges of hate crimes and obstruction of the practice of religion in connection with the June 2015 shooting. Judge J.C. Nicholson imposed nine consecutive life sentences in state prison Monday after church members and Roof's grandfather testified about how the massacre affected them personally.
Roof was found guilty late last year of 33 federal charges and sentenced to death during a separate proceeding earlier this year. He pleaded guilty Monday to 13 counts, including murder and attempted murder for the shooting during the Bible study at the historically black Emanuel AME Church, Fox Carolina reported.
Roof stood at the defense table with his attorneys, wearing a gray and white striped jail jumpsuit and handcuffed to a chain at his waist.
"The impact at Mother Emanuel has been far reaching," said Pastor Eric Manning, who currently leads Emanuel's congregation. "We visit the crime scene every day."
Blondelle Gadsden, sister of murdered victim Myra Thompson, said, "Even though we're at a point where death has been the sentence for him, my heart still goes out to him in hopes that he would repent to save himself from himself. I can't think of anything worse that he could do at this point than to not accept Christ and try to make his days on this earth a little bit more peaceful."
But Eva Dilligard, whose sister Susie Jackson was killed, said, "I think somebody doing something like that, he should get death. ... I'm very sorry. I'm a child of God. But he hurt the entire family."
The judge also heard from Roof's grandfather, Columbia attorney Joe Roof.
"I want everyone to understand that nothing is all bad, and Dylann is not all bad," the elder Roof said. He added that he and his wife pray for the Emanuel families every night, and are sensitive to their problems.
"We have been distressed and just sick over what has happened to these families," the grandfather said.
The self-avowed white supremacist was unapologetic at his federal trial as he listened to days of testimony from survivors. Roof fired his defense team for the sentencing portion of that trial, calling no witnesses or putting up any evidence of his own.
"I have the right to ask you to give me a life sentence, but I'm not sure what good it would do anyway," Roof told jurors in his closing argument. "I still feel like I had to do it."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.