CHARLESTON, S.C. - Convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof has told a judge he plans on calling no witnesses and presenting no evidence to try to convince a jury to spare his life for killing nine black church worshippers in a hate crime.
Roof told U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel at a hearing Wednesday he still plans to act as his own lawyer when the penalty phase of his federal death penalty trial begins next Tuesday.
Gergel told Roof to talk to his grandfather, who is a lawyer, and other family members one last time. He said Roof can change his mind and bring back his attorneys up until opening statements next week.
There also was argument from Roof about mystery evidence, like a photograph prosecutors want to show and video from jailhouse visits. Specifics were not given in court.
Gergel scheduled a hearing Wednesday in federal court to hear motions before the penalty phase in Roof’s trial starts next week.
Roof is now acting as his own lawyer after letting go of his defense attorneys after a jury convicted him of 33 counts of hate crimes and obstruction of justice earlier this month.
Roof’s lawyers said they think he got rid of them because they wanted to present what Roof thought was embarrassing evidence seeking to get the same jury to spare his life.
In a closing argument during the guilt phase of Roof’s trial, defense attorney David Bruck conceded that Roof killed the victims and even praised the FBI investigation, but he also argued Roof was a suicidal, impressionable loner who never grasped the gravity of what he did. He asked jurors to consider what was going on in his head as he planned the killings.
The defense put up no witnesses. They tried to present evidence about his mental state, but the judge ruled it didn’t have anything to do with his guilt or innocence.
A prosecutor said that Roof was full of hate and “immense racial ignorance” when he carried out the attack. In his closing argument, assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams mocked Roof for calling himself brave in his racist-filled journal and his confession to the FBI, saying the real bravery came from the victims who tried to stop him as he fired 77 bullets.