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A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof

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“What are you?” a member of the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston asked at the trial of the white man who killed eight of her fellow black parishioners and their pastor. “What kind of subhuman miscreant could commit such evil?... What happened to you, Dylann?”
Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah spent months in South Carolina searching for an answer to those questions—speaking with Roof’s mother, father, friends, former teachers, and victims’ family members, all in an effort to unlock what went into creating one of the coldest killers of our time.
Sitting beside the church, drinking from a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, he thought he had to go in and shoot them.
They were a small prayer group—a rising-star preacher, an elderly minister, eight women, one young man, and a little girl. But to him, they were a problem. He believed that, as black Americans, they were raping “our women and are taking over our country.” So he took out his Glock handgun and calmly, while their eyes were closed in prayer, ope…

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Two Major Death Penalty Cases

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear two cases raising major questions about the death penalty, including whether executing a condemned inmate more than 35 years after he was sentenced to death violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

That case, Moore v. Texas, No. 15-797, concerns Bobby J. Moore, who has been on death row since 1980 for shooting and killing an elderly Houston supermarket clerk, James McCarble, during a robbery. 

Mr. Moore’s case also raises questions about whether Texas uses outdated standards in assessing whether a defendant’s intellectual disability was severe enough to bar his execution.

The second case, Buck v. Stephens, No. 15-8049, concerns the role race may play in capital sentencing. 

Duane Buck was convicted of the 1995 murders of a former girlfriend and another man. Texas law allows death sentences only if prosecutors can show the defendant poses a future danger to society.

During the trial’s sentencing phase, Mr. Buck’s lawyer presented testimony from a psychologist who said that race is one of the factors associated with future dangerousness. I

n their petition seeking Supreme Court review, Mr. Buck’s new lawyers said his trial lawyer had been ineffective and that Mr. Buck’s death sentence was infected by racial bias.

Source: The New York Times, Adam Liptak, June 6, 2016

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