(CN) – Dylann Roof, already sentenced to die after a federal trial for the 2015 murders of nine people in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, pleaded guilty Monday to state charges for the killings.
The deal with prosecutors means Roof won’t stand trial in state court and clears the way for his transfer to the federal death row facility in Terre Haute, Indiana.
In a letter to victims’ families, Ninth Judicial Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson explained that “[a] guilty plea in state court means that if something very, very, very unlikely were to happen at the federal level, the state sentence would take effect and he would serve life in prison (And no more trials!).”
Roof told investigators that he killed the nine Bible study class attendees at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston because he wanted to start a race war.
During his federal trial prosecutors said Roof sat with his victims for more than 40 minutes before he opened fire on them, and that he reloaded his gun seven times, shooting his victims repeatedly.
Roof sat stonefaced throughout his federal trial and during the testimony from survivors, and never apologized or expressed remorse over what he’d done.
After Roof’s plea was entered, Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson heard from members of Emanuel AME Church .
“The impact at Mother Emanuel has been far reaching,” said Pastor Eric Manning, who took over after Roof killed the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.
“We visit the crime scene every day,” Manning said.