Dylann Roof Hearing Set in advance of Proceedings

Associated Press

A judge has set a hearing ahead of sentencing proceedings for Dylann Roof, the 22-year-old man convicted of killing nine Black worshippers at South Carolina’s Emanuel AME Church last year.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel has scheduled a pre-trial hearing for Dylann Roof on Dec. 28.

A jury found Roof guilty last week of 33 federal charges including hate crimes in the June 2015 attack at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church. The same jury on Jan. 3 will begin hearing evidence as to why prosecutors feel Roof should be executed for his crimes.

A loner who has espoused violent racist sentiments for years, Roof began his plot to kill Blacks at least two years ago when he began to visit historical sites that were connected to Black history around the Charleston area. He settled on Emanuel A.M.E. because the area because of its deep roots and strong historical ties, he said in a taped confession. It is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the southern U.S. and one of the oldest independent Black congregations in the country.

Eventually he developed and wrote a White supremacist  “manifesto” that he put online that speaks of his extreme hatred for Blacks, Jews, Hispanics and others. In his skewed mindset, he defends racism as a logical way of thinking in his belief that Blacks are subhuman.

“Segregation did not exist to hold back negroes,” Roof wrote. “It existed to protect us from them…Not only did it protect us from having to interact with them, and from being physically harmed by them, but it protected us from being brought down to their level.”

The 22-year-old Roof is acting as his own lawyer during the sentencing phase. He notified the court last week in a handwritten motion he didn’t intend to introduce any evidence pertaining to his mental health.

A state death penalty trial is expected next year.