Dylann Roof may be sabotaging himself in court to get death sentence


The sentencing hearing for convicted mass murdererDylann Roof got underway in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday, and Roof — as expected — is doing little to convince the jury to spare his life. Roof, 22, was convicted last month of the racially motivated murders of nine people at a historically black church in 2015.

Roof, who is acting as his own attorney, addressed the jury that will decide his fate after prosecutor Nathan Williams made an emotional plea to the court to sentence Roof to death.

"I trust people that I shouldn't. There's nothing wrong with me psychologically," Roof told the jury, according to local reporter Chad Mills, who is at the courthouse. "The point is that I'm not going to lie to you, not by myself or through somebody else," Roof added.

By intentionally stressing his sanity, Roof has essentially eliminated one of the few mitigating factors that might convince the jury to sentence him to life in prison rather than death.

See photos from the case:

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Charleston SC shooting suspect. Dylann Roof
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Charleston SC shooting suspect. Dylann Roof
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
This image has been provided by the Charleston Police Department, Thursday, June 18, 2015. A man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside a historic black church in downtown Charleston, S.C., Wednesday night, June 17, 2015, killing nine people, including the pastor in an assault that authorities are calling a hate crime. The shooter remained at large Thursday. (Photo via Charleston Police Department)
The Emanuel AME Church is viewed behind a police vehicle on June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the Church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer holds up a tape in front of the Emanuel AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A view ofthe Emanuel AME Church is seen June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Many observers believe that Roof is representing himself in an attempt to sabotage his own defense to intentionally obtain a death sentence. Last week, Roof told U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel that he planned to call no witnesses or present any evidence that might sway a jury to spare his life. In representing himself, he is able to keep any questions about his mental state from the jury.

Roof's attorneys have been arguing unsuccessfully for months to present an insanity defense. Roof has vehemently opposed any such defense, and even wrote in a journal found his car just after the June 2015 shootings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that he is "morally opposed to psychology" because "it is a Jewish invention, and does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they dont [sic]."

Despite his lawyers' hopes to present an insanity defense, Roof was deemed fit to stand trial, and to represent himself in the sentencing phase, after two competency hearings. Of his mental state, Judge Gergel commented that Roof has an "extremely high IQ" and "no cognitive impairment" that would prevent him from participating in his trial.

The jury is now tasked with considering several mitigating and aggravating factors in determining whether to sentence Roof to death or life in prison. The mitigating factors that could keep Roof off of death row include things like his young age at the time of the murders, and that he confessed to the crimes. The aggravating factors, however, which include whether he has remorse for what he did and the fact that the murders were racially motivated, seem to outweigh anything that could convince a jury that he deserves anything but a death sentence.

"I would like to make it crystal clear I do not regret what I did. I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed," Roof wrote in a journal after his arrest.

Prosecutor Williams pounced on Roof's lack of remorse and the victims he targeted in his opening statements, telling the jury that Roof's crimes were worse than other murders because he had no regrets. "Six weeks after he was arrested he said the same thing," Williams said, referring to things Roof said prior to the murders and what he wrote in his journal after his arrest.

Williams plans to call more than three dozen witnesses, including family members of the victims, as he makes the case to send Roof to the death chamber. The sentencing phase is expected last two days.

The post Dylann Roof Effectively Begs Jury To Sentence Him To Death appeared first on Vocativ.

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