South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called the shooting spree inside a Charleston church a hate crime
and said Friday that the accused gunman should face the death penalty, reported the Washington Post.
“This is an absolute hate crime, ” Haley, a Republican, said in an interview on the Today Show. “And when I’ve been talking with investigators as we’ve been going through the interviews, they said they looked pure evil in the eye yesterday. Without question this is hate."
“We absolutely will want him to have the death penalty,” Haley said Friday morning. “This is the worst hate that I’ve seen and that the country has seen in a long time.”
South Carolina has the death penalty and carries out executions by lethal injection, though the state has not put an inmate to death since 2011. State law says that prosecutors can seek the death penalty if there are certain “aggravating circumstances” in the case.
One of these aggravating circumstances is when the person in question is charged with murdering two or more people during a single act. Other aggravating circumstances include killing a law enforcement officer, killing a child age 11 or younger or killing a person while carrying out another crime like a robbery.
In South Carolina, if prosecutors seek the death penalty and show that aggravating circumstances were involved, the person on trial can be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.
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