Dylann Roof, the South Carolina man who gunned down black worshippers at a historic African-American church in 2015, plans to represent himself — without the aid of evidence or witnesses that could save his life — during the sentencing phase of his federal hate-crime trial, according to reports from a Wednesday morning pretrial conference in Charleston.
Roof told U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel he will give an opening statement when sentencing proceedings begin Jan. 3, the Charleston Post and Courier reported. But he will not present evidence or call any witnesses in an attempt to convince the jury that found him guilty earlier this month not to put him to death.
Roof spoke during the otherwise standard pretrial conference, according to reporters tweeting from the courthouse in Charleston:
Roof, who killed nine members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, had been accused of targeting the parishioners because of their race. The hate-motivated massacre shattered any notions that the country had moved further away from its violent, white-supremacist past.
On Dec. 15, 12 jurors found Roof guilty on all 33 charges against him, including hate crimes resulting in death, obstructing the exercise of religion and firearms-related offenses. The verdict capped nearly two weeks of gut-wrenching testimony from shooting survivors, state and federal investigators and police, establishing Roof as an unrepentant racist.
In addition to the federal trial, Roof faces nine murder charges and three attempted murder charges in state court. Those proceedings are set to begin sometime in January.
If convicted in state court, Roof will again face the death penalty.