Dylann Roof’s Federal Trial Begins

Victims at AME Church

On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof went to the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina where they were holding Bible Study.  He shot and killed 9 people.  A manhunt resulted, and Roof was found and arrested in North Carolina.  He confessed to the killings.

Roof is an avowed White supremacist who perceived that he had to save the White race from Blacks.  He wanted to start a race war.  Roof waited until parishioners closed their eyes to pray  before firing his Glock .45-caliber pistol.  When it was over, Roof had fired more than 70 shots, striking his victims 60 times.

The 22-year old is charged with 12 federal counts of hate crimes, 12 counts of obstructing the exercise of religion, and 9 counts of firearm violations.   Federal prosecutors seek the death penalty.

Discarding empty magazines and reloading his weapon, Roof found survivor Polly Sheppard hiding as she prayed. Roof told her to shut up, before asking if she had been shot. Sheppard was then told that she would be left alive so that she could tell others what had occurred. She will likely serve as the final witness for the prosecution in the guilt phase of the trial.

Since he was arrested, there have been numerous pleadings and hearings in the case.  To report on each one would be tedious.  The most recent included a motion to find Roof mentally incompetent to stand trial.  The court denied that motion.  The LA Times reports that Judge Gergel found Roof capable of standing trial on the basis that he completed the 9th grade and had an “extremely high IQ” and was able to understand courtroom proceedings.  A legal expert however, stated that there is a clear difference between intellectual ability and judgment.

It is not known what type of mental illness or emotional disturbance Roof may or may not have because the hearings were closed to the public.

Roof’s attorneys offered to change Roof’s plea to guilty in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without parole.   Federal prosecutors turned down the offer.

Just before jury selection, Roof motioned the judge to release his attorneys.  He wanted to represent himself.  The judge granted Roof’s motion.  After jury selection, Roof asked the judge to rehire his attorneys, but he wants to represent himself during the penalty phase.   The judge granted his motion.

Dylann Roof

Dylann Roof

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled that Roof’s parents, grandmother and grandfather (who is a lawyer) can remain in the courtroom during the trial even though they’re potential witnesses. All other witnesses must stay out until they testify.

Federal prosecutors anticipate resting their case in 7 days.

Trial began on December 7, 2016. The jury consists of 2 Black women, 8 White women, 1 White man, and 1 Black man.  Six alternatives were chosen; 3 Whites; 2 Blacks; and 1 who identifies as “other”

Federal courts do not allow cameras in the courtrooms, so there will be no live streams or videos of the trial.

Opening Statements and First Day of Trial

Opening statement were made yesterday.   As reported by PBS.org, Assistant U.S. Attorney Julius Richardson said that Roof planned to kill the Black worshippers months in advance.

 “He chose to execute nine good, innocent men and women, and he chose to do so out of a callous hatred of the color of their skin.”

Charleston City Paper reports that Attorney Richardson first detailed the lives and personalities of the nine victims.  Photos of each victim were placed on a screen in the courtroom:

“As the group of 12 joined together that night, they welcomed a 13th — Dylann Roof,” Richardson told the jury before saying that to those in the church Roof seemed harmless as he was offered a seat next to the late Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

According to the prosecution, Roof had carefully planned his attack, researching the church, making several visits to Charleston, and even stopping to ask an African-American parishioner Emanuel AME’s hours of service prior to the shooting.

Prosecutors plan to show Roof’s videotaped confession recorded after he was apprehended in North Carolina following the shooting. Richardson told the jury that the confession will include not only a detailed account of what happened on the night of the shooting, but Roof’s explanation of what motivated his “racial retribution for perceived offenses against the white race.”

Roof’s court appointed attorney, David Bruck, stated that the facts of the crime are not in dispute. He focused instead on motivation, saying “You will see a crime that is driven by fear.”

Felicia Sanders survived.  She was the first witness to testify and stated that the Rev. Clementa Pinckney invited Roof to take a seat next to him and handed him a Bible.

” There were so many shots. Seventy-seven shots in that room from someone we thought was looking for the Lord.”

Sanders said she played dead as the blood of her dying son, Tywanza Sanders, 26, and her aunt, Susie Jackson, 87, pooled around her. Roof shot Felicia’s son 5 times.

The New York Times reports that police officers and other emergency workers testified Wednesday of finding an unimaginable scene. Footage from a police sergeant’s body camera showed them trying to determine the number of casualties.

“We’ve got one, two, three, four, five, five, six, seven, eight, make that eight,” one officer counted as he surveyed the room.”

Updates of the trial will be posted in the comment section below.

(In referencing the mistrial in Charleston last week , the host makes a mistake in the video below saying that Michael Slager was charged with the murder of Keith Lamont Scott.  Slager was charged with the murder of Walter Scott.)

Posted on 12/08/2016, in AME shootings, Cases, Trial Videos and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 67 Comments.

  1. Ignorant and hateful. deadly combination.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. There was a motion for a mistrial today from Roof’s defense. Yesterday during opening statements, Amy Roof, Dylann’s mom, suffered a heart attack. Roof’s attorneys said in the motion for a mistrial that a survivor’s testimony was so emotional that “spectators and even court personnel — including members of the prosecution and defense — were crying with her.”

    The testimony was given by Felicia Sanders. Roof’s attorneys claimed it was inappropriate because it contained a statement on what Roof’s sentence should be. That statement came during cross-examination by Roof’s attorneys.
    “Defense attorney David Bruck asked her on cross-examination whether she remembered Roof saying anything in the aftermath of the shootings.
    “He said he was going to kill himself,” she said. “I was counting on that. There’s no place on Earth for him other than the pit of hell.”

    Judge Richard Gergel denied the mistrial request and said he interpreted Sanders’ testimony as “a religious comment.” He instructed jurors that any decision on guilt or a sentence is up to the jury — not the attorneys or witnesses in the case.

    Roof appeared in court today wearing a gray sweater and light-colored slacks. He wore his gray and white stripped prison uniform in previous court appearances.

    Also today, Charleston police Sargent Dan English showed the jury more than 20 video clips taken from cameras at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church on June 17, 2015.

    The clips showed many of the victims and Roof entering the church. Roof is seen leaving the church 52 minutes later.

    Britany Burke, a state investigator who responded to the church, testified that she found a chaotic scene with Bibles, victims and bullets everywhere. She testified that cartridges throughout the room where the shooting occurred indicates that Roof was moving as he fired his gun.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. yahtzeebutterfly

    Liked by 3 people

  4. We all know babies are blank canvases, they’re taught every single thing they know. People and society teach children to be racist, no one is preconditioned to hate because racism is a learned response. People aren’t born racist however we have been born into a racist society. Makes me wonder if Dylann’s parents are applauding his crimes???

    Liked by 5 people

    • Lady,
      You make an excellent point. It caused me to consider another side, which is, what about parents who do not teach their children that all are equal? What if they teach nothing about loving and respecting all and the child grows up and falls for ideologies? I ask these questions because Dylann Roof claims that when he heard about Trayvon Martin, he searched the internet for Black on White crime. He discovered a website that writes on White Supremacist ideologies and started his belief that Blacks are taking over the country.

      Since the election of Obama to the presidency, there seems to be a fear among those with WS ideologies about losing power. But power that comes from a gun is not power of intelligence nor because of the color of skin. Although the judge declared that Roof has a high IQ, I think the expert is correct when saying that intelligence is not the same as judgment. Roof doesn’t have good judgment to discern good and evil. He choose evil.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. The horror these people endured is unimaginable.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. The whole story behind this suspect (I refuse to say his name) is the axis of evil.
    Evil went to church.
    Evil was greeted with loving arms.
    Evil sat through a portion of bible study.
    Evil stood UP and killed 9 innocent people…

    Where this suspect picked up all of this EVILl in his heart is undetermined and even though I don’t believe in the death penalty… this suspect being eaten alive by a pack of hungry wolves would ABSOLUTELY be too good for him.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. This video shows Dylann Roof leaving the church after he killed 9 people. He is carrying his gun in the open.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Stansbury is the FBI agent who interviewed Dylan Roof after his arrest. He presented the video of the interview, which was admitted into evidence. The jury is now watching it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Liked by 1 person

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      Laughing???!!! How sick and cold is that???

      Liked by 3 people

    • What a sick little freak. The fRight Wing has pushed and perpetuated hate fear and division. Roof saturated his weak easily led mind with the hate spewed against people of color from sites with words like ‘Conservative’ ‘Liberty’ ‘Patriot’ and ‘National’ in their name.

      I am sick and disgusted with every Conservative in this country who failed to stand up over the last 8 years and make an attempt to change this. Trump himself tweeted the same FAKE crime stats against people of color that Dylann Roof was fed.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mindyme,
        Indeed! That fear, and protecting the White woman from Black men, is something that dates back to just after the Civil War. Stats about who is in prison does not reflect the biased sentencing structure of the judicial system, nor the stop and frisk that is not conducted in predominately White communities.

        Liked by 2 people

        • It’s their own guilty consciouses knowing how many women of color were raped by white slave owners. Fear of retribution

          Liked by 2 people

          • Mindyme,
            Now, that’s a thought. What do they call it? Projection?

            Liked by 1 person

            • Oh hell no! They’re not about to let others treat them the way some have treated others throughout our history as a nation.

              Like

            • Mindyme,
              I kinda thought that the day after the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Whites who I’ve known for years suddenly developed a nervous smile each time they saw a Black person. It was as if they thought Blacks were going to pick fights with them just because a Black man was elected to the highest political office in the land.

              Liked by 1 person

  10. From the Post and Courier

    The victims were peppered with bullets. Susie Jackson, an 87-year-old parishioner and family matriarch, took the most rounds, with 11 shots to her body. Doctors also recovered four rounds from Tywanza Sanders; three from the church’s pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney; six from Cynthia Graham Hurd; seven from Ethel Lance; eight from the Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor; four from the Rev. Daniel L. Simmons Sr.; five from Sharonda Coleman-Singleton; and eight from the Rev. Myra Thompson.

    http://www.postandcourier.com/church_shooting/jury-in-dylann-roof-trial-sees-video-of-him-leaving/article_1fd07e58-bd34-11e6-bc79-a3aad4016f39.html

    Liked by 1 person

  11. yahtzeebutterfly

    Liked by 2 people

  12. yahtzeebutterfly

    Liked by 2 people

  13. roderick2012

    I swear every time I see Roof I see the Chuckie doll.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Roderick,
      When I heard his voice and his reactions, he gives me the impression of someone who is brainwashed or self-deceived.

      Liked by 2 people

      • roderick2012

        He sounded to be a bit mentally slow to me.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Roderick,
          That might be due to his lack of social skills. Roof was tested after his attorneys filed a motion to find him incompetent to stand trial. An expert said that Roof’s IQ is high, but his judgment is bad.

          Who was it that said there is a thin line between genius and insanity?

          Liked by 3 people

  14. If anyone is interested in watching Roof’s confession video, it’s on the WISTV in 3 parts.
    http://www.wistv.com/clip/12956623/dylann-roof-confession-video-part-1-warning-graphic-content

    The following video is a 2:37 portion.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. He sure likes using the word “God” a lot. (rolling eyes)

    Liked by 1 person

  16. yahtzeebutterfly

    My heart is sending out prayers and a caring embrace of protective support to the families and loved ones of the Emanuel Nine.

    http://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/afez8y/picture119836368/ALTERNATES/FREE_640/Mother%20Emanuel%20Nine

    Liked by 2 people

  17. ANNOUNCEMENT

    We have snow, snow, snow. That means shoveling, blowing, sweeping just to keep up with the accumulation. I don’t think I’ll be posting any new posts and will keep this thread running until the end of Roofs trial, which might be completed this week.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. At trial today, federal prosecutors reveal that Roof had a list of 6 predominately Black churches.

    Like

  19. The federal court has a site that includes all trial exhibits including videos. They are posted according to the day they were entered into evidence at trial.

    http://www.scd.uscourts.gov/cases/2-15-472/exhibits/

    Liked by 1 person

  20. According to federal prosecutors, Roof said he was too worn out from killing and Emanuel AME to go to other churches. Sounds like he had planned massive slaughters elsewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Here is Roof’s full, 2 hour interview.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. More updates of trial, December 12, 2016.

    Ronald Thrailkill, the general manager at Shooter’s Choice, testified Roof came into the store on April 11, 2015. The gun comes with 3 magazines. Roof purchased 2 additional magazines the same day that he purchased the gun, and returned on April 27, 2015 and purchased 3 more.

    Employees at the store said the federal government’s background check did not deny Roof from buying the gun within the three-day wait period they observe. However, 12 days after the shooting, the federal government told the store not to sell to Roof.

    Former FBI technology examiner Amanda Simmons testified. She copied and examined a computer at the home of Roof’s father. On that computer, Simmons said she found more than 100 deleted images on the computer, including some that were found on a website associated with Roof.

    Simmons located a document related to an online posting containing offensive racial claims about blacks and Jews. That document was last accessed at 4:45 p.m. on June 17, 2015, just hours before the shootings at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church.

    FBI Special Agent Tracy Sicks read aloud from Dylann Roof’s online manifesto during testimony. In it, Roof detailed his thoughts on slavery, the migration of white people to suburban areas and violence between the races.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Like

  24. yahtzeebutterfly

    Like

  25. Roof intentionally targeted Emanuel AME Church.

    An expert with the GPS company Garmin, J.D. Krull, testified that the GPS traveled to Mother Emanuel Church three times in the the time leading up to the shooting, as well as the day of the massacre.

    The GPS first went by the church in December 2014, then in February and April of 2015, and June 17, 2015.

    The prosecution’s last few witnesses include the medical examiner and Polly Sheppard, a survivor of the shooting.

    The judge has already told family members images of their loved ones autopsies will be graphic.

    The defense is still working on getting their witnesses for the case.

    Closing arguments in the federal trial could comes as soon as Thursday morning

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Roof said he was not going to other churches (other than historical Black churches), because there might have been White people there.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Wednesday, December 14, 2016

    The prosecution has rested. Roof decided not to testify on his own behalf. After the defense failed to convince the judge to allow a witness to testify of Roof’s mental state, the defense rested.

    I’ll return in a bit after gathering info for the survivor’s testimony and that of the medical examiner.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Liked by 1 person

  29. Survivor Polly Sheppard was the last witness. She is 72 years old. Polly recalled how after shooting several fellow parishioners, Roof walked up to her and pointed his gun at her.

    “He told me to shut up,” Sheppard said. “I was praying. He told me to shut up and he asked me, ‘Did I shoot you yet?’ I said ‘no.’ He said, ‘I’m not going to. I’m going to leave you to tell the story.’”

    As Roof stood before her feet, Sheppard said Tywanza Sanders attempted to distract Roof by asking him why was he “doing this. We mean you no harm.”

    “The defendant said, ‘I have to,’” Sheppard said in court. “‘I just have to.’ He said he had to do it.”

    Sheppard said that when she first heard the gunshots, she thought something had gone wrong with the church’s electrical wiring. But when she heard Felicia Sanders screaming that Roof had a gun, Sheppard said she ducked under a table.

    Sheppard called 911. The tape of her call was played in court.

    When Polly’s testimony ended, those in the courtroom paid her respect by standing as she walked down the aisle to leave. Even Roof’s attorneys stood.

    Read more here: http://www.heraldonline.com/news/local/crime/article120828698.html#storylink=cpy

    Like

    • “After the playing of the 911 call came to end, Roof’s defense attorney, David Bruck, stood up and addressed Sheppard during cross examination.

      “I’m so sorry,” Bruck said. “I have no questions.”

      When Sheppard stepped away from the stand, she choked back tears. As she walked toward the aisle, people began to stand in a kind of shared, silent recognition that everyone had just heard a remarkable story from someone who had been through a horrific ordeal and survived to tell the tale.

      Among the first to stand were Roof defense attorneys Bruck and Kimberly Stevens. It is almost unheard of for a courtroom audience to stand in respect when a witness finishes testifying and is leaving the courtroom.”

      Liked by 1 person

  30. I just listened to Polly Sheppard’s 911 call. 😥

    Like

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      So heartbreaking…the horror that she witnessed is unimaginable. Her grief, Felicia’s grief and the grief of the loved ones of the Emanuel Nine tears at my heart. May the Lord be present always with them and strengthen and hold them close in His comforting arms.

      Liked by 2 people

  31. yahtzeebutterfly

    My desire at this time is
    that only the Eternal Light Who guided the Emanuel Nine be amplified
    that their spiritual connection to that eternal Love, Mercy and Grace be honored
    that the beam of their trust and faith be announced in shining possibilities

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Polly’s 911 call.

    Like

  33. Report on trial testimony from December 14th.

    Like

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