Jury to Hear Charleston Shooter’s Confession
Jurors in accused Charleston shooter Dylann Roof’s federal hate crimes trial will hear his recorded two-hour confession Friday as proceedings in the case head into a third day of evidence in the racially motivated massacre that left nine Black churchgoers dead.
The Post and Courier reports that prosecutors plan to play the confession, which was recorded in North Carolina on the day of Roof’s arrest, in its entirety. This will mark the first time the public has heard extensively from the self-identified White supremacist.
“He was eager to explain what he was trying to do,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson told the court before testimony started. “He had a relaxed demeanor, almost jovial.”
Roof has remained stone-faced in court, scarcely moving or looking up from the defense table in front of him, even when the victims’ loved ones’ sobbed loudly as horrific images from the massacre displayed on TV screens in the courtroom.
Before court began on Friday, Roof’s defense team filed a motion asking to submit “relevant evidence of the defendant’s state of mind and personal characteristics.” U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel warned the defense attorney from trying to slip in such evidence during the guilty phase of the trial.
Usually the evidence in which they are attempting to submit is included during the next part of the trial, where jurors decide if Roof gets life in prison without parole or the death penalty.
The presentation of Roof’s confession today will follow evidence presented Thursday that included graphic images of bodies, blood and bullets, which flashed before the jury and the families of those killed as prosecutors built their case against the 22-year-old.
The images showed the nine dead lying on a white tile floor smeared with blood and littered with shell casings and emptied magazines that had been cast aside by Roof. In sum, investigators collected 74 shell cases from the scene. Fifty four rounds were pulled from the victims’ bodies during autopsies.
The victims were sprayed with bullets. 87-year-old Susie Jackson took the most rounds with 11 shots to her body.
Roof can be seen on surveillance video arriving at about 8:17 p.m. in the church’s parking lot. At 9:07, the motion-activated camera captured him leaving Emanuel AME Church. The footage served to identify Roof as the prime suspect in the killings.
Roof faces 33 federal charges in sum, including violations of hate crime laws and religious freedoms. His attorneys have offered for him to plead guilty and serve life in prison, but federal prosecutors are seeking the ultimate punishment instead. State prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. That trial is slated to begin on Jan. 17.