Attorney: Dylann Roof's mom had heart attack during trial

Dec 10, 2016, 00:51

Lawyers for Roof, 22, argued eyewitness Felicia Sanders had offered prejudicial and improper opinion about what penalty he should face.

She also recalled the horror of watching her son, Tywanza, and her 87-year-old aunt, Susie Jackson, killed.

She repeated those sentiments, also saying Roof, a self-described white supremacist, is "evil as can be".

Roof is on trial on 33 federal counts, including hate crimes, in the shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015. They are white and the people killed were black.

Both attorneys and psychologists experienced in capital cases say a primary reason counselors are fired by defendants stems from a belief by the client that he or she is not mentally ill.

Roof would plead guilty if federal prosecutors agreed to a sentence of life in prison without parole rather than death, his lawyers have said.

Roof was arrested in Shelby, North Carolina, on June 18, 2015, the day after he carried out the mass murder at a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church.

When she heard the loud noise, she assumed something was wrong with the electricity. She said when the shooting started she first thought there was an electrical problem with an elevator.

"The second person shot was the Rev. Daniel Simmons, 74, who jumped up and went toward the fallen Pinckney, shouting, "'Let me check my pastor.

Minutes later, as her son lay dying, he looked up at her. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said he viewed Sanders' comments as a religious statement and not an opinion about sentencing.

"I killed them", Roof said.

"He just sits there the whole time. Evil, evil, evil as can be", Sanders testified.

He told the jury as Roof planned the murders, he bought a Glock 45 caliber pistol, did research to select the target for his attack, and engaged in frequent target practice. Local prosecutors then wanted to pursue a case, as well, but the idea "was roundly criticized and dropped", Dunham said. The aftermath of the massacre and Roof's claims led to the Confederate flag being lowered from State House ground. The attack prompted SC to completely remove the emblem from its Capitol grounds.

According to a reporter who observed the jury selection process, the panel appears to be racially mixed.

Each time, Richardson objected strenuously, telling the judge that Bruck was trying to get to matters that are out of bounds during the guilt or innocence phase of the trial. He may not call any witnesses of his own.

Bruck urged jurors to pay attention to the little things and use their common sense to determine what made Roof hate black people so much.

Roof's trial began only days after another one with racial overtones ended in a mistrial. Jurors could not agree on a verdict for former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, who shot a black man in the back as he was running away from a traffic stop. The only other glimpse into his motivation was a 2,000-word statement he posted online on the afternoon of the shooting and 60 photos he carefully picked from more than 1,000 he had taken, Richardson said.

He also dismissed the prosecution's claim that Roof meant to inspire others to kill.

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