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Family Members of Victims Asked God to Have Mercy on Dylann Roof at His First Court Appearance

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has already said she hopes the 21-year-old alleged church shooter receives the death penalty.

Dylann Storm Roof after his arrest Thursday. Photo via Charleston County Sheriff's Office

Dylann Storm Roof, who allegedly attacked congregants of an historic black South Carolina church on Wednesday, made his first appearance in court Friday afternoon via video link. A few hours earlier, Charleston police charged the 21-year-old with nine counts of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

The state's governor, Nikki Haley, has already said she hopes Roof will receive the death penalty.


Although it was scheduled for 2 PM, Roof's bond hearing didn't actually begin until about 20 minutes later. The presiding judge began with a statement that set the tone of the rest of the proceedings.

"Charleston is a very strong community," he said. "We have big hearts. We're a very loving community. And we're going to reach out to everyone, all victims, and we will touch them. We have victims—nine of them. But we also have victims on the other side. There are victims on this young man's side of the family. Nobody would have ever thrown them into the whirlwind of events they have been thrown into."

In the hearing, Roof told the judge he was unemployed, and a lawyer explained that his prior drug charges have not yet been disposed. Family members representing the victims were asked if they wanted to make statements. Although some passed on the opportunity, others addressed Roof and publicly pleaded for the young man's soul.

The daughter of one victim, 70-year-old church sexton Ethel Lance, was among them.

"I just want everybody to know: To you, I forgive you," she said. "You took something very precious away from me. I will never talk to her again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you, and have mercy on your soul."

As Lance's daughter choked on tears, Roof's facial expression remained stoic. The judge set his bond at $1 million for the weapons charges—another judge will decide whether to grant him bail at a later hearing—and scheduled his first court date for October 23.

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More On The South Carolina Shooting:

1. We Asked A Lawyer If Dylann Roof Could Face Terrorism Charges
2. Everything We Know So Far About The 21-Year-Old Who Allegedly Committed The South Carolina Shooting 3. What White Supremacists Are Saying Online About the South Carolina Shooting 4. What Racist Skinheads in Prison Think About Dylann Roof