In his opening statement during the penalty phase of his trial, Wednesday, Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof to explain his reasons for acting as his own lawyer. He said that he wanted to avoid, the advocates of the introduction of mitigating evidence about his mental health, and urged the judges to ignore what the defense team may have said on this subject.
“There is nothing wrong with me psychologically,” said Roof.
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Acting as his own lawyer, the white supremacist spoke directly to the same jurors who last month convicted him in 2015 massacre at Emanuel AME Church. That jury must now decide whether the Roof needs to the rest of his life in prison for his crimes, or face execution.
In the prosecution’s opening statement, Assistant district Attorney of the V. S. Nathan Williams argued for the latter, remind judges of the racist motive for the crimes, and the Roof seeming lack of remorse. He argued that one of the murders could only be a guarantee for the death penalty.
“Taken together, they justify the most significant penalty available for you,” Williams said.
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Officers of justice have begun to call on the relatives of the victims to testify about the impact of the man from the Roof crimes. Roof, on the other hand, plans to call no witnesses and no evidence. However, he told the court that he would offer a conclusive argument.
The roof of the decision to represent himself went against the advice of his own lawyer. But Philip Holloway, a Atlanta-based criminal defense lawyer not associated with the Roof test, said this process may be a rare instance in that self-representation could benefit of the defendant.
“Dylann Roof has little or nothing to argue in his favor,” said Holloway FoxNews.com. “About the only thing he can do, and it’s a kind of a Hail Mary, is to stand in front of the jury himself and his opening speech and make the closing argument, because they get to hear from him personally. And if he has any hope of swaying the judges, it does it that way, without being subject to cross-examination.”
Judge Richard Gergel has restrictions imposed on the convicted person’s physical movement within the courtroom.
As he spoke, the Roof will not be permitted to approach witnesses or the jury. And sitting at the defendant’s table, the Roof will continue into the chair farthest from the jury and the relatives of the nine church shooting victims.
One of those family members, Malcolm Graham, said the hardest part of sitting in the pilot was watching the video of his now deceased sister, Cynthia Hurd, walking into the church the night of the shooting with a smile on her face, preparing for what she thought would be a routine study of the bible in a safe and sacred space.
“It was hard to watch and know that they would not run in the same way they ran,” said Graham FoxNews.com.
Graham, who a decade in the North Carolina State Senate, said that some crimes are so heinous that execution is the only appropriate punishment.
“My sister and eight others died simply because they were there and they were black,” Graham said. “That’s not in a civilized society and must be punished.”
Speaking of the Roof, Graham added, “There is no room for him in a civilized society. I believe there is no room for him in America’s smallest jail.”
Fox News’ Chip Bell and Terrace Garnier contributed to this report.
Jonathan Serrie joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in April 1999 and currently serves as a correspondent based in the Atlanta bureau.