US church shooter won’t call witnesses to avoid death penalty
Dylan Roof, 22, also confirmed that he intends to represent himself during the stage in which the jury will decide whether to sentence him to capital punishment or life in prison.
“As far as I know, I am not intending to offer any evidence at all or call any witnesses whatsoever,” Roof told US Judge Richard Gergel in a Charleston courtroom, The Post and Courier reported.
“I think it’s a bad idea,” Gergel said about Roof’s decision to represent himself, telling him that he has until Tuesday, the first day of the hearings, to change his mind.
Roof, who told Gergel he will make his own opening statement, also said he will not argue that he has mental problems to persuade the jury to spare his life.
The government plans to call more than 30 witnesses, mostly survivors and victims’ family members, to testify during the sentencing phase, The Post and Courier reported.
The same jury found Roof guilty on all 33 charges he faced, including hate crimes resulting in death, earlier this month.
He was convicted of carrying out the June 2015 massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church after taking part in an evening Bible study class.
During the first phase of his trial, the court saw a video of Roof’s confession following his arrest the day after the attack. In it, he justified his actions as a reprisal for crimes he said African-Americans commit against white people.
“Somebody had to do something because black people are killing white people every day,” he said calmly and without emotion to the FBI special agent questioning him. “They rape 100 white people a day.”
Three members of the Bible study group survived the massacre.
The church, also known as “Mother Emanuel,” is one of the oldest black congregations in the American South, with strong links to the fight against slavery and segregation.