- Dylan Roof, 22, was convicted of killing nine people at a church in Charleston
- He was found guilty last week of all 33 counts over South Carolina massacre
- Roof filed a note saying he did not want jurors to consider his mental health
- Jurors will decide whether he faces the death penalty or life in prison
- Roof had written in a racist journal saying psychology was a Jewish invention
Dylann Roof chose not to use mental health experts at his murder trial over the death of nine black Charleston church worshipers because he believes psychology is a Jewish invention.
The 22-year-old filed a handwritten motion saying he did not want jurors to consider his mental health when they decide next month if he should face the death penalty.
His decision on Friday to not call mental health experts to testify isn’t too much of a surprise.
In his hate-filled, racist journal read to the jury during his trial, Roof said he doesn’t believe in psychology.
‘It is a Jewish invention and does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they don’t,’ Roof wrote.
Roof was convicted last Thursday of all 33 counts, including hate crimes and obstruction of religion, after the massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina last year.
Jurors took less than two hours to reach their verdict.
Those same jurors will decide in another phase of the trial starting January 3 whether Roof, who is acting as his own lawyer, faces the death penalty or life in prison.
In his handwritten note, Roof said: ‘I, Dylann Roof, withdraw the notice relating to presenting mental health mitigation through expert testimony.
‘I will not be calling mental health experts or presenting mental health evidence.’
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Roof’s lawyers unsuccessfully tried to stop him from being his own lawyer, saying he was a high-school dropout and that they feared Roof fired them because he was afraid the attorneys would present evidence that would embarrass him and his family when trying to save his life.
Roof has until January 3 to change his mind about being his own lawyer, WCSC reported.
It comes after the horrific details of his crime on June 17, 2015 were revealed during six days of testimony.
Roof fired 77 shots in the fellowship hall when he stormed into a Bible study class. More than 50 hit someone and each of the nine people killed were struck at least five times.
The medical examiner said the angles of some of the bullets seemed to show someone was holding a gun over victims who were lying still with their arms pulled against them. A prosecutor said they were executed like animals.
Roof didn’t hesitate to explain his racist beliefs during his confession to FBI agents and left a handwritten journal full of his views, such as blacks being inferior to whites.
He also left behind carefully chosen pictures of himself holding the .45-caliber Glock he used in the killings, posing at historic Civil War and African-American sites and holding the Confederate flag.
As the verdict was read, Roof just stared ahead, much as he did the entire trial. Family members of victims held hands and squeezed one another’s arms. One woman nodded her head every time the clerk said ‘guilty’.
Roof’s lawyers presented no witnesses and tried in vain to introduce evidence that problems with Roof’s mental health led to the killings.
But U.S. Judge Richard Gergel said that kind of evidence is only permissible in the upcoming penalty phase, when Roof will represent himself.
In his closing argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams mocked Roof for calling himself brave, saying the real bravery came from the victims who tried to stop him.
‘This defendant chose to take their lives. He chose to break their bodies. But he does not get to choose who they were,’ Williams said.
Williams’ 50-minute closing argument filled the court with tension. At times, the prosecutor raised his voice, saying Roof was a cold, calculated killer.
Some family members of victims dabbed their eyes with tissues, and jurors appeared emotional when Williams, after apologizing to them, showed crime scene photos of each person killed alongside a small picture of them while alive.
Those pictures included the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41, Emanuel AME’s pastor and a state senator; Myra Thompson, 59, who taught Bible study that night; Cynthia Hurd, 54, a librarian; and Depayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, who friends said sang like an angel.
Also slain were Daniel ‘Dapper Dan’ Simmons, 74, nicknamed for his shiny shoes and fine hats; Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, a high school track coach; Ethel Lance, 70, the church sexton who kept the building immaculately clean; Susie Jackson, 87, who sang in the choir; and Tywanza Sanders, 26, Jackson’s nephew and an aspiring poet.
Defense lawyer David Bruck conceded Roof committed the slayings, but he asked jurors to look into his head and see what caused him to become so full of hatred, calling him a suicidal loner who never grasped the gravity of what he did.
Survivor Felicia Sanders has her own theory. She thinks Roof is a coward, too, because he refused to look at her as she testified. She refused to say after the verdicts were read whether she wants Roof to die for his crimes.
She noted how Roof told the FBI he had no friends.
‘He had nine friends sitting in the church that night,’ said Sanders, who testified Pinckney warmly welcomed Roof, who sat with the Bible study for 45 minutes before opening fire during the closing prayer.
‘If only he had waited right after we said the prayer, we would’ve all gathered around him and found out what his needs were what his wants and invited him to come back.’
Roof faces a second death-penalty trial early next year in state court, where he faces nine counts of murder. A state judge is ordering 600 prospective jurors to report to the Charleston County Courthouse on January 17 for initial screening.
His order says the trial will begin on or after January 30. It’s not clear when the federal case will wrap up. For now, Roof has attorneys representing him in the state case.
Dylann Roof never denied the killings, freely admitting to shooting his victims when he was first arrested back in June, 2015.
The only thing he is fighting for now is not freedom but his life.
When he was charged, prosecutors asked that Roof be sentenced to death for his crimes. His attorneys tried to negotiate a plea deal for life imprisonment but they refused.
Because they didn’t take the sentence off the table, Roof entered a not guilty plea and the trial moved forward.
Had the murders taken place in a state which does not uphold the death penalty, it’s more than likely there would have been no trial and some of the details revealed during court proceedings would not have been shared.
South Carolina lifted its ban on capital punishment in 1985.
It is one of the harshest states in the country when it comes to the death penalty and still uses the electric chair. It also executes death row prisoners by lethal injection.
Roof allowed defense attorney David Bruck to represent him throughout the guilt and innocence phase of the trial.
Bruck however called no witnesses. His only hope was to present evidence that Roof was not mentally equipped to be held accountable for the crimes.
Judge Richard Gergel however didn’t allow him to enter evidence surrounding Roof’s mental health.
Roof requested to represent himself at the sentencing phase of the trial. It will be the first time he has been heard from publicly since the shooting.
Judge Gergel gave him the option to reconsider his decision on Thursday but Roof upheld his decision.
(Article by Jeremiah Jones; From Daily Mail)