CHARLESTON, SC (WIS) - Twelve men and women have decided if Dylann Roof, the 22-year-old Columbia man accused in the racially-charged murders of nine African-American parishioners in 2015, is guilty in the federal government's death penalty case.
Jurors will decide if Roof is guilty or not guilty of 33 separate charges, including hate crimes and obstruction of religion charges for each of the nine people killed and five who survived the June 2015 massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston.
RELATED: See photos of the Emanuel AME Nine.
Prosecutors and the defense wrapped up closing arguments just before noon on Thursday.
Federal prosecutors began their closing arguments with fiery remarks and said Roof scouted, researched, and finally found his target in hopes of starting a race war in America with his actions because he believed African-Americans to be "nothing more than animals."
"You have seen the ignorant hatred that his violence is based upon," the prosecutor said.
Prosecutors then wrapped up their arguments with a tribute to the nine victims, recalling the "goodness" they all displayed even in their final moments of life.
"This defendant's message of hatred was eclipsed by the good of those nine people," the prosecutor said.
Roof's defense, meanwhile, attempted to portray Roof as a man who became a racist only because of extreme ideologies he was exposed to on the Internet in recent years.
"He didn't get this from anyone else that he knew," defense attorney Bruck said. "The racist ideas that he downloaded online are unfortunately and tragically common."
If they find Roof guilty, the same jurors will return Jan. 3 for the next phase of the trial to determine if he's sentenced to death or life in prison.