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WILL DYLANN ROOF’S EXECUTION BRING JUSTICE? FAMILIES OF VICTIMS GRAPPLE WITH FORGIVENESS AND DEATH

The first thing you see when you walk into the home of Arthur Stephen Hurd is a row of oversized photographs of his wife, Cynthia. They are displayed along the wall on the right, placed on chairs and propped against the fireplace. In one corner is a portrait taken around the time they met. She’s in her early thirties, radiant in a colorful high-neck sweater and gold earrings. Further down is a picture from their wedding day – they wear dark, formal outfits; Cynthia beams, holding a red bouquet. Leaning on the fireplace is a photo of the pair boarding a Carnival cruise ship a year later – a trip to celebrate their anniversary. In the middle of the display is a framed picture of the luminous stained glass windows above the pulpit at Charleston’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. This is where Cynthia died, shot to death alongside eight fellow parishioners by 21-year-old Dylann Roof in 2015.

Photographs of Cynthia Maria Hurd are displayed in the living room of the North Charleston home of her widower, Arthur Stephen Hurd, on Jan. 6, 2017.
Photographs of Cynthia Maria Hurd are displayed in the living room of the North Charleston home of her widower, Arthur Stephen Hurd, on Jan. 6, 2017. Photo: Liliana Segura/The Intercept

The photos were last displayed at Cynthia’s funeral, held at Mother Emanuel, as the church is known, and attracting hundreds of mourners. Since then, Hurd has received countless gifts and messages of support, many from strangers: a three-panel poster board that came in the mail, filled with signatures from people he does not know; a wooden cross on the mantle from a Baptist congregation in Texas, reading, “We Will Never Forget Cynthia Hurd.” And in the front yard, a statue of an angel, donated by a landscaping company in Spartanburg, SC.

I met Hurd on Friday, the third day of Roof’s sentencing trial, which ended today with a federal jury returning a unanimous verdict that he should be executed. Hurd had spent the day in court, hoping to take the stand as one of a long procession of government witnesses called to testify about their loved ones. But prosecutors chose three other people to talk about his wife instead. Each was powerful in their own way: Her brother Malcolm, a former lawmaker in North Carolina, said Cynthia was his “protector” growing up, the one who would see his report cards before their parents did. Her friend and fellow librarian Patrice Smith described how she had helped her through a miscarriage and a divorce, giving her a gift card for groceries when she was struggling to make ends meet. And in particularly emotional testimony, her younger sister, Jackie, described how she had discovered she had cancer after Cynthia urged her to get a mammogram. The diagnosis came just one month before the shooting. “I got you,” Cynthia had said.

Read more at TheIntercept.com…

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