According to a CNN report, Dylann Roofhas been found guilty of all charges including 9 murder charges in the Charleston church shooting and faces the death penalty. The accused, Dylann Roof, elected to represent himself at trial
Darren Kavinoky, founding attorney of 1.800.NoCuffs, weighs in on the ruling in the Dylann Roof case and what lies ahead for him in the sentencing phase of the case which is scheduled for January of 2017. Says Kavinoky, “This is also an excellent illustration of how capital cases (i.e., cases involving the death penalty) are unique. Whether those criminal cases are in state court or federal court, they are broken up into two separate and distinct phases: the so-called ‘guilt phase,’ where the jury is tasked with deciding whether the government has proved each and every element of their case beyond a reasonable doubt; and the ‘penalty phase,’ where the choices are life in prison without the possibility of parole, or death.”
Kavinoky adds, “In this case, the evidence of guilt was so overwhelming that the defense tactic of abbreviating the trial was the best tactical move they could have made to maintain credibility with the jurors. The defense lawyers in this case appear to be focused on the one thing they may yet achieve: saving his life.”
On the issue of the death penalty
, which is a possible outcome for Roof, Kavinoky says, “Many who take issue with the death penalty focus on the challenges of a heavily-burdened, often-broken and sometimes demonstrably wrong judicial system. For example, since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, there have been over 150 exonerations from death row. In each one of those 150+ cases where the criminal defendant had a date with the executioner, every single safeguard in the system broke down. This is, of course, unrelated to the nearly 2,000 people who have been exonerated from over 10,000 wrongfully served years in prison.”
“Dylann Roof does not fall into that category, and the obviousness of his guilt left his defense team with the only possible option remaining: to try to save his life,” explains Kavinoky. “Whether they will be successful or not is too soon to tell. Stay tuned, but please tell me what you think. Should it be ‘an eye for an eye?’ Or do we believe so much in the sanctity of life that we need to be an example, even in the face of evil? Would you feel differently if it were one of your relatives who was victimized? Isn’t the depiction of Lady Justice as being blindfolded a metaphor to disregard that natural emotional pull towards revenge?”
“It’s as if there’s a two-sided coin being flipped, one side reading ‘justice’ and the other ‘mercy.’ Which do you choose?” asks Kavinoky.
1. Nick Valencia, Catherine E. Shoichet and Keith O’Shea. December 15, 2016. CNN. “Dylann Roof trial: Jury returns guilty verdict on all charges.” Retrieved via http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/15/us/dylann-roof-murder-trial/index.html