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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. Read the rest of this entry

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