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American Carnage: Woman killed family, herself in triple murder-suicide

(KEEGO HARBOR, Mich.) — Autopsies show a suburban Detroit woman fatally shot her husband, son and daughter before killing herself. ...

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sabato 10 dicembre 2016

Blood and bodies: Charleston's church carnage

Jurors in the federal hate crimes trial of the white man accused of killing nine black parishioners in a Charleston church got a glimpse Thursday of the blood-soaked crime scene -- carnage one former agent called "overwhelming."
Dylann Roof, the self-described white supremacist who prosecutors say carried out the attack in cold blood in June last year during Bible study at the "Mother Emanuel" church, could face the death penalty if convicted.
Bodies everywhere, the walls spattered with blood, shell casings and bullet fragments strewn around a room in the church basement -- that was the scene described and shown to jurors on day two of Roof's trial in South Carolina.
The packed courtroom remained mostly silent as 3D images of the scene were displayed, ABC television affiliate WCIV reported. During the testimony, Roof did not look up, keeping his gaze on the table in front of him.
"It was very overwhelming," said Brittany Burke, who was a crime scene special agent for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division at the time, describing what she found upon entering the church.
"My initial impression was it was very hectic. There were multiple victims, multiple items of evidence," she said, according to WCIV.
She described a scene "so chaotic" that it was hard to tell whether emergency first responders, police and firefighters had stepped in the blood that had pooled on the ground.
Many relatives of the victims and survivors chose to stay to see the harrowing images, despite an earlier warning from US District Court Judge Richard Gergel that they would see a "very graphic" scene.
In one angle of the scan, the body of Tywanza Sanders can be seen, covered in blood and his shirt ripped open after first responders tried unsuccessfully to revive him.
There were bullet holes in the walls, on the floor and through tables.
Over the next eight or nine hours, investigators worked through the night collecting about 117 pieces of evidence -- including cartridge cases, bullets and bullet fragments, magazines, a black messenger bag and a belt, Burke said.
Dots showing where evidence was found filled a diagram of the room.
In all, the team recovered 74 casings and four live rounds at the church, the oldest African Methodist Episcopal place of worship in the US South.
The live rounds were found in a magazine that was left on a table. All other magazines were emptied.
Burke said 54 bullets were removed from the bodies during autopsies. The body with the most bullets was that of 87-year-old Susie Jackson, who had 11 of them lodged in her.
Jurors were also shown surveillance footage of Roof as he left the church holding a .45 Glock semi-automatic handgun.
At the start of the day, Roof's defense team filed a motion for mistrial -- quickly denied by Gergel -- after emotional testimony from a survivor, Felicia Sanders, who called the shooter "evil" and said he belonged in "the pit of hell."
"The witness was crying so hard that the government was compelled to request a recess at that moment," read the filing, referring to Sanders's tearful testimony on the trial's opening day Wednesday.
Sanders told the court that she lay in a pool of her son and her aunt's blood while cradling her granddaughter as the massacre unfolded.
"Many spectators and even court personnel -- including members of the prosecution and defense -- were crying with her," the defense motion read.
Roof's own mother experienced a heart attack during the testimony and had to be hospitalized, it added.
Federal prosecutors are seeking to put Roof to death, and have rejected his offer to plead guilty to the 33 federal charges against him -- including hate crime violations that could carry the death penalty -- in exchange for a life sentence.
The accused gunman is also facing state murder charges in South Carolina, though that trial is not due to begin until January 17. State prosecutors also are seeking the death penalty.
Roof's trial is taking place with the city on edge after a mistrial was declared in the case of a former South Carolina cop who shot dead an unarmed black suspect in neighboring North Charleston.
Both trials come during a year riddled with high-profile police shootings of African Americans that have inflamed racial tensions across the country.

Blood and bodies: Charleston jurors see church carnage 8 December 2016

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Dylann Roof wanted the world to know he hated black people and thought they were criminals. He thought about attacking drug dealers, but they might shoot back. So, he told the FBI, he picked a historic black church in Charleston he had learned about online.
In a videotaped confession shown Friday during his death penalty trial, Roof laughed several times and made exaggerated gun motions as he recounted the massacre. He explained that he wanted to leave at least one person alive to tell what happened and complained that his victims “complicated things” when they hid under tables.
Forty-five minutes into the interview, an FBI agent decided to tell him nine people died in the June 17, 2015, shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
“There wasn’t even that many people in there,” Roof said incredulously. “Are you lying to me?”
The blurry video made it hard to see his face. After being told the details, an agent asked how he felt.
“Well, it makes me feel bad,” said Roof, who earlier in the confession estimated he might have killed five.
Roof’s lawyers have conceded that he carried out the attack and are concentrating on convincing jurors to spare his life in the second phase of the trial.
Later Friday, Roof’s handwritten journal was read aloud. It was full of dubious, offensive racial claims about blacks and Jews, from stories about African-Americans enjoying slavery to segregation keeping white people from being dragged down.
“How could our faces, skin colour and body structure be so different, but our brains exactly the same?” Roof wrote.
His video confession came about 17 hours after the shooting. FBI agents drove to Shelby, North Carolina, where he was arrested. The plane that would take him back to Charleston was not going to arrive for a few hours. So FBI agent Michael Stansbury got permission to take a chance and interview him immediately.
It paid off. After reading Roof his rights and engaging in brief small talk, an agent asked Roof what he was doing on the night of the killings.
“I went to that church in Charleston and, uh, I did it,” he said.
Roof said he wanted to kill black people because they rape white women daily. Agents asked why he chose Emanuel AME. He said online it was listed as the oldest black church in the South, and there probably would not be any white people there.
“I knew that would be a place to get a small amount of black people in one area,” Roof said, later adding, “They’re in church, they weren’t criminals or anything.”
Earlier testimony from survivor Felicia Sanders said Roof sat through the Bible study beside pastor Clementa Pinckney and opened fire as the rest of the group of 12 closed their eyes for a final prayer.
“I was sitting there thinking about whether I should do it or not. That’s why I sat there for 15 minutes. I could have walked out,” Roof said.
Church surveillance videos indicate Roof was actually inside for about 45 minutes.
Roof, as he has for much of the trial, hardly looked up as the confession played, mostly just shuffling papers in front of him.
He told FBI agents questioning him that he could never look at the families of the victims. And throughout the trial, he has not looked at the dozens of family members in the courtroom.
Roof meticulously prepared for the shootings. He carried eight magazines that could each hold 13 bullets. But he only loaded 11 bullets so he could shoot 88 times — a revered number among white supremacists, standing for Heil Hitler because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet.
In the confession, Roof said he left bullets in a magazine so that he could kill himself after the slayings but changed his mind when he didn’t immediately see any police.
At one point, an agent asked if Roof thought about killing more blacks.
“Oh no. I was worn out,” Roof said.
A crime scene technician testified that she found two handwritten notes in Roof’s car — one to his mother and one to his father. He told his dad: “I love you and I am sorry. You were a good dad.”
To his mother, he said: “As childish as it sounds, I wish I was in your arms.”
Roof’s mother suffered a heart attack while watching opening statements Wednesday. Her condition is unclear.
Roof said the killing of Trayvon Martin was a turning point in his life. Martin, a young unarmed black man, was killed by neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in 2012. Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting. Roof said he started researching black crime against whites on the internet.
He told the agents he didn’t talk about his racist beliefs with his friends or family.
“They probably won’t agree with me — you know what I’m saying?”



 'Well, I killed them, I guess'; Dylann Roof chuckled during church mass shooting confession to FBI 

JEFFREY COLLINS, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 

The jury found 22-year-old Dylann Roof guilty on all counts.
The jury of nine white people and three black people deliberated less than two hours before returning a verdict. Roof faces 33 federal charges, including hate crimes and obstruction of the practice of religion.
The same jury will return Jan. 3 to consider if Roof should be sentenced to death for the June 2015 attack at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

He is slated to face another death penalty trial in state court early next year.

Jurors find Dylann Roof guilty in South Carolina mass shooting Dec 15, 2016


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