Charleston shooter won’t present ev­i­dence dur­ing sen­tenc­ing.

Roof will not call wit­nesses, hopes to keep em­bar­rass­ing ev­i­dence se­cret

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY JEF­FREY COLLINS

CHARLESTON, S.C. | Charleston church shooter Dy­lann Roof says he won’t call any wit­nesses or present ev­i­dence while rep­re­sent­ing him­self dur­ing the pun­ish­ment phase of his death penalty trial, but he is work­ing hard to keep se­cret po­ten­tially em­bar­rass­ing ev­i­dence about him­self and his fam­ily.

Just ex­actly what that ev­i­dence is re­mains a mys­tery. Roof, the judge and pros­e­cu­tors tip­toed around de­scrib­ing it dur­ing a hear­ing Wed­nes­day. The judge has in­di­cated that it may be al­lowed dur­ing the penalty phase of the trial, which starts next week.

The same ju­rors who con­victed Roof ear­lier this month of killing nine black church mem­bers in a racially mo­ti­vated at­tack will hear from Roof as well as tes­ti­mony from the fam­i­lies of vic­tims. At the end of the penalty phase, the panel will de­cide whether Roof, who is white, should be put to death or spend the rest of his life in prison.

Roof was warned by U.S. Judge Richard Gergel that be­ing his own lawyer is a bad idea.

“That’s your de­ci­sion,” Judge Gergel said. “I think that high­lights my ad­vice to you that you aren’t served by be­ing your own coun­sel.”

Judge Gergel told Roof to talk to his grand­fa­ther, who is a lawyer, and other fam­ily mem­bers one last time. He told Roof he has un­til the start of the penalty phase Tues­day to change his mind and re­hire his high-pow­ered, pub­licly funded de­fense team.

Roof spoke for less than 10 min­utes of the 35-minute hear­ing. He told Judge Gergel he does plan an open­ing and clos­ing state­ment. He also told the judge he ob­jects to pros­e­cu­tors’ plans to present a pho­to­graph of ev­i­dence in the court’s pos­ses­sion. Roof, Judge Gergel and As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Jay Richardson talked about it with­out say­ing what it is.

Judge Gergel said there was a hear­ing in which he de­cided it could be ad­mit­ted in the penalty phase.

Roof also wanted a jail­house state­ment left out of the penalty phase and ev­i­dence that in­volved his mother. No specifics were given.

Judge Gergel told Roof to go back to jail and write a mo­tion for him to con­sider. Roof’s an­kle chain clanked as he walked back to the de­fense ta­ble in his jail jump­suit.

Roof’s de­fense at­tor­neys wanted to call men­tal health ex­perts, but Roof has in­di­cated he will not. In his hate-filled, racist jour­nal read to the jury dur­ing his trial, Roof said his doesn’t be­lieve in psy­chol­ogy.

“It is a Jewish in­ven­tion and does noth­ing but in­vent dis­eases and tell peo­ple they have prob­lems when they don’t,” Roof wrote.

Pros­e­cu­tors also laid out their case Wed­nes­day. Most of the penalty phase will in­volve up to 38 peo­ple re­lated to the nine peo­ple killed and the three peo­ple spared when Roof went into Emanuel African Methodist Epis­co­pal Church on June 17, 2015, sat through a 45-minute Bi­ble study in the fel­low­ship hall, then fired 77 shots as many of the wor­ship­pers hid un­der ta­bles.

Judge Gergel, who com­plained dur­ing the guilt phase that pros­e­cu­tors were re­peat­ing them­selves at times with wit­nesses, said he will al­low Mr. Richardson to call as many wit­nesses re­lated to the vic­tims as he wants.

“The statute pro­vides broad lee­way for the vic­tims to be heard, and I plan on hon­or­ing that,” the judge said.

Mr. Richardson said he also will call the chief FBI agent on the case to tie up loose ends and re­fresh ju­rors’ mem­o­ries.

Judge Gergel spent much of the hear­ing go­ing over the for­mat of the penalty phase with Roof, warning him sev­eral times he was likely do­ing him­self no fa­vors leav­ing his de­fense team as just ad­vis­ers to file briefs.

Af­ter say­ing he planned no wit­nesses, Roof told Judge Gergel he was just an­swer­ing the same ques­tion the judge had asked pros­e­cu­tors. Judge Gergel said that wasn’t nec­es­sary.

“Don’t do them any fa­vors,” the judge said. “They aren’t go­ing to do you any.”

“That’s your de­ci­sion. I think that high­lights my ad­vice to you that you aren’t served by be­ing your own coun­sel.”

— Judge Richard Gergel


Charleston church shooter Dy­lann Roof won’t call any wit­nesses or present any ev­i­dence dur­ing the pun­ish­ment phase of his death penalty trial, but he does hope to keep se­cret some po­ten­tially em­bar­rass­ing ev­i­dence about him­self and his fam­ily.

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