Today the nation witnessed one of the most extraordinary scenes ever in an American courtroom.
And many in these deeply religious families forgave him, because that is what their religion teaches.
Ethel Lance, 70, left five children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren behind. A daughter spoke for the family.
"I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you and have mercy on your soul," she said. "It hurts me, it hurts a lot of people, but God forgive you and I forgive you."
Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, was a mother of four. A sister spoke for the family.
"We have no room for hate. We have to forgive. I pray God on your soul. And I also thank God that I won't be around when your judgment day comes with him," she said.
Tywanza Sanders, 26, reportedly tried to shield the others from the gunman. His mother addressed his accused killer.
"We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms," she said. "You have killed some of the most beatifulest people that I know. Tywanza Sanders was my son, but Tywanza was my hero. Tywanza was my hero. But as we said in Bible study, we enjoyed you, but may God have mercy on you."
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