Roof: No Witnesses, Evidence in My Defense

Judge tells 22-year-old 'it's a bad idea' to go with that plan for penalty phase of trial
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2016 11:32 AM CST
Roof: No Witnesses, Evidence in My Defense
In this June 18, 2015, file photo, Charleston, SC, shooting suspect Dylann Roof is escorted from the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, NC.   (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

The sentencing phase of Dylann Roof's federal hate-crimes trial, in which he could be given the death penalty, begins Tuesday, and the 22-year-old who killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, SC, in 2015 told a judge Wednesday at a pretrial hearing that he still intends to serve as his own defense for those proceedings, the Post and Courier reports. Those in the courtroom shouldn't expect an elaborate production on his part. "As far as I know, I am not intending to offer any evidence at all or call any witnesses whatsoever," Roof informed US District Judge Richard Gergel, who told Roof he'd still give him until Tuesday to change his mind. "You know my feeling on this," Gergel advised Roof, telling him to at least confer with his grandfather and his former attorneys before barreling ahead with his plan. "I think it's a bad idea."

Per CNN, the judge mentioned prosecutors will present an opening statement first on Jan. 3, and Roof—who was convicted Dec. 15 on 33 counts—did say he'll make his own opening statement when they're done. But after that, his effort to save his own life will apparently be done, even though it's been confirmed that the government has a list of about 30 witnesses it may call to describe how the shooting has affected survivors and victims' families. Per the Post and Courier, Roof's ex-lawyers most likely would have brought out evidence on his mental health to try to spare him the death penalty. The AP notes Roof is representing himself because he fears some of that evidence may embarrass himself or his family. ABC News reports Roof also faces a state trial, with its own possibility of a death sentence, early next year. (Read more Dylann Roof stories.)

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