Evidence submitted through the day in the trial of the killer of nine members of Charleston’s Emanuel A.M.E. church shows the motivation of a person who went from espousing a self-invented racist ideology into being a sadist bent on slaughtering innocent people.
Dylann Roof’s defense team, after making motions for a mistrial based on the testimony of one victim last week who said he deserved to be in the “pit of hell,” has been seeking ways to save their client from the death penalty in the federal hate crimes trial.
But as the trial proceeded on Monday, items placed into evidence included Roof’s Glock .9mm pistol used in the massacre, which also had his fingerprints on it; ammunition for the weapon; a laser sight; receipts for the material; small American and confederate flags and the addresses and phone numbers of several Black churches in the Charleston area including Emanuel A.M.E.
The receipts showed that the pistol came from a gun dealership called Shooter’s Choices in West Colombia, S.C. Although he denied having used any drugs in the past on a required form, Roof told police in early 2015 that he using a controlled substance illegally, which should have prevented him from buying a gun under federal rules.
The FBI failed to recognize the red flag in Roof’s record and he went on to pass the three-day waiting period to purchase a firearm. On April 16, 2015, he brought the Glock and three magazines. Eleven days later he purchased more magazines. On June 17 he attended a bible study at Mother Emanuel, then opened fire on the unsuspecting attendees.
Further testimony on Monday by FBI Special Agent Tracy Sicks revealed Roof’s specific intention. He had written a “manifesto” on his website, describing disturbingly White supremacist views, all but declaring war on Blacks, characterizing Whites as victims, and spelling out his violence plans.
“I have no choice,” the four page diatribe read. “I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is the most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country…Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.” (Read the entire document here.)
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson, the case’s lead prosecutor is expected to wrap up the prosecution’s case later this week. After that the defense team will present its case, but since Roof has already admitted the killings, they will not likely lodge a strong case for his acquittal. After the defense closes, jurors will consider if Roof is guilty on the 33 counts against him.
During the penalty phase, prosecutors will present reason why Roof should face the execution for the killings. Meanwhile Roof will represent himself as his own attorney, in a part of the proceedings where defense attorneys normally try to show any mitigating circumstances that should prevent the death penalty.