'I'm Not Going To Lie To You,' Dylann Roof Tells Jurors At Sentencing Hearing
Last month, a jury in Charleston, S.C., found Dylann Roof guilty on 33 counts of federal hate crimes for a racially motivated church shooting that left nine people dead. Now, that jury is set to determine the punishment Roof will receive for those murders: execution or life in prison.
Roof, who has been allowed to represent himself, is expected to deliver his opening statement in the sentencing phase Wednesday. He has said he will not call witnesses or experts to the stand during this phase of the trial.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel approved Roof's request to serve as his own counsel after a second hearing on the 22-year-old white supremacist's mental competency. The request for self-representation — and its approval — came over the protests of Roof's own lawyers.
Still, earlier this week, Gergel laid out strict rules for Roof's conduct while acting as his own lawyer.
"In an order, the judge detailed how Roof can behave while in court," Alexandra Olgin of South Carolina Public Radio reports. "He cannot approach witnesses, the jury or the bench and has to give opening statements from behind a podium."
Roof killed nine parishioners at Charleston's historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015. In a confession taped shortly after he was taken into custody, Roof made plain his racial motivations, adding: "I am guilty. We all know I'm guilty."
It took less than three hours last month for the jurors to concur. They found him guilty on charges ranging from murder and attempted murder to obstruction of religious belief and damage to religious property.
Federal prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty, with plans to call up to 38 people as witnesses and experts during this phase of the trial, according to The Associated Press.
And this is not the only trial that Roof is facing — and not the only possibility for capital punishment. "After the federal proceedings," reports NPR's Debbie Elliott, "Roof is scheduled to be in state court early next year on murder charges that also carry the possibility of a death sentence."