CHARLESTON, S. C. – Dylann Roof told a judge Wednesday that he did not plan to call any witnesses or evidence exists for a jury to spare his life for killing nine black believers in a Charleston church in a hate crime.
But there is also the mystery evidence that the Roof is working hard to ensure that the audience never gets to see in his federal death penalty trial.
Roof, who is acting as his own attorney in the penalty phase to avoid what he thinks would be further embarrassment for himself or his family, the weather was warned by U.S. Judge Richard Gergel during a hearing on Wednesday that his own lawyer was a bad idea.
“That’s your decision,” Gergel told Roof. “I think the highlights of my advice to you is that you are not served by your own council.”
Gergel told the Roof to talk with his grandfather, who is a lawyer, and the other members of the family one last time. He told Roof he has until the start of the penalty phase Tuesday to change his mind and to hire high-ability, state-funded defense team.
The same jurors who convicted Roof, earlier this month, on 33 counts including hate crimes and obstruction of the religion will return next week to decide whether he faces life in prison without parole or the death penalty.
Roof spoke less than 10 minutes of the 35-minute hearing on Wednesday. He told Gergel that he does plan an opening and closing statement. He told the court that he objects to the prosecutors of the plan to take a picture of the evidence in the court’s possession. Roof, Gergel and the assistant-Procurator of the V. S. Jay Richardson all carefully tip-toe around to say what that evidence was.
Gergel had: there was a hearing, in which he decided that it could be admitted in the penalty phase.
Roof also wanted a jailhouse statement from the penalty phase and the evidence involved his mother. No details were given. Gergel told the Roof to go back to the prison and the writing of a movement for him to consider. The roof is single chain clanked as he walked back to the defense table in his prison jumpsuit.
The prosecutors also laid out their case. Most of the penalty phase will lead up to 38 people in connection with the nine people killed and three people saved after the Roof went up in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015, sat through a 45-minute study of the Bible in the community hall, then fired 77 shots as many of the faithful hidden under tables.
Gergel, who complained during the guilt phase that the prosecutors were to repeat themselves, sometimes with witnesses, said that he will allow Richardson to call as many witnesses related to the victims, if he wants to.
“The statute provides spacious play area for the victims to be heard, and I plan on honoring that,” the judge said.
Richardson said he also will call the chief FBI agent on the case to bind loose ends and to refresh the jurors ‘ memories.
Gergel spent a large part of the hearing is about the layout of the ne stage with a Roof, warning him a few times, he was probably doing himself no favors leaving his defense team simply as advisers to file briefs.
After saying he was going no witnesses, Roof told Gergel that he was simply the answer to the same question the judge had asked prosecutors. Gergel said that was not necessary.
“Don’t do them any favors,” the judge said. “They are not going to do you.”
Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter http://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/jeffrey-collins .