Dylann Roof Sentencing Trial Begins


Convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof deserves the death penalty because he painstakingly chose to kill nine Black parishioners over the color of their skin and felt no remorse, a federal prosecutor said Wednesday.

The same jury that last month unanimously found Roof guilty in the June 2015 slayings during Bible study at Emanuel AME Church will now decide whether he should be sentenced to life in prison or death.

“This defendant’s horrific acts justify the death penalty,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams said. “He killed nine people. … He killed them because of the color of their skin. He killed them because they were less than people.”

The 22-year-old Roof, who is White, is representing himself but has said he plans to call no witnesses or introduce any evidence. His former legal team has said Roof fears embarrassing himself or his family.

Roof is expected to give an opening statement when prosecutors finish.

In his journal, which was read in court during his trial, Roof said his doesn’t believe in psychology, which he called “a Jewish invention” that “does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they don’t.”

Roof also seems determined to try to keep evidence embarrassing to him or his family out. Not only did he take over his own defense, but he asked the judge at a hearing last week if he could file a motion limiting what prosecutors can introduce.

Roof also was adamant that a transcript of a hearing where he was found mentally competent not be released to the public.

“I know this is not a legal argument, but the unsealing of the competency hearing defeats the purpose of me representing myself,” Roof said at last week’s hearing.

Prosecutors plan to call up to 38 people related to the nine people killed and three who survived.

“This will be heartbreaking,” Williams said.