CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Closing arguments are expected to begin on Thursday in the federal trial of Dylann Roof who's charged in the deaths of nine parishioners at the Mother Emanuel AME church.
On Wednesday, the prosecution and defense rested their cases after jurors heard emotional testimony from one of the survivors, Polly Sheppard, and heard her 911 call which the government has since released to the public.
Roof faces 33 federal charges including hate crimes after allegedly opening fire on black parishioners in Bible study on June 17, 2015, killing nine.
Sheppard is one of the three people — two adults and a child — that survived.
Sheppard grabbed two tissues before she testified Wednesday morning in federal court.
She said Roof found her praying out loud under a table after he opened fire on the parishioners.
"He told me to shut up," she said. "He asked if he shot me yet — I said no. He said I'm going to leave you to tell the story."
Sheppard then called 911 from Ethel Lance's cell phone which was an arm's length away. Sheppard spoke quietly as she was hiding under a table, still thinking Roof was at the church.
Throughout Sheppard's testimony, Roof didn't look up.
In a 911 call played in court, Sheppard begs a dispatcher to send help fast, saying "there's plenty of people shot down here."
As Sheppard talks to the operator, Felicia Sanders is heard comforting her son, Tywanza, who had been shot five times.
Sanders said she watched her son come into this world and watched him leave.
Last week, Sanders choked back tears and called Roof "evil, evil, evil" as she testified. Sanders played dead with her young granddaughter as the bullets flew.
The prosecution said they had nothing more to add after Sheppard's testimony.
The defense told a judge they wanted to rest their case after Dylann Roof said he didn't want to testify.
If found guilty, the Roof faces life in prison or death.
Roof currently pleads not guilty but has offered to plead guilty if the death penalty option is taken off the table.
Medical examiner testifies to wounds suffered by victims
Dr. Erin Presnell, a pathologist with Roper Hospital, also testified on Wednesday and told the court she handled all the autopsies over the course of four days after the shooting.
Presnell said the number of gunshot wounds totaled 60 with many of the wounds hitting vital organs like the lungs, heart and aorta.
According to Presnell, many died from the multiple gunshot wounds to those vital organs.
Presnell said it was likely a couple of the victims were crouching, perhaps trying to protect themselves.
She said she was able to tell this because they had entrance and exit wounds to the hands, chest and arms.
All of the victims were shot at least 5 times, while the oldest victim, 87-year-old Susie Jackson, was shot at least 10 times.
Rev. Daniel Simmons was the only victim to be transported to the hospital still alive.
The medical examiner says he died from his gunshot wound to his lung.
Closing arguments expected to take place Thursday morning
On Wednesday afternoon, the jury was dismissed at lunch time to go home following testimony.
Judge Gergel said it was important to have a well-rested jury with the jurors returning to court at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday.
Both sides will do their closing arguments which could take all morning if not longer.
The judge will then charge the jury, essentially go over the 33 charges with them and what elements the government must have proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order to find Roof guilty.
The jury will then deliberate.
The defense told the judge on Wednesday they did not feel the government proved Roof attempted to kill Polly Sheppard and Felicia Sanders and Sanders' granddaughter, but the judge said he'll leave that up to the jury to decide.
A defense motion filed for a direct verdict in the case after Sheppard's testimony was denied.
Roof's attorneys argued the government failed to produce evidence that the defendant targeted the victims due to their religious beliefs. Among Roof's 33 charges are counts of religious obstruction.
The prosecutors said they have sufficiently proved that and the judge agreed with them.
The prosecution, defense and judge will meet at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday for a charge conference.
The government released evidence presented on Tuesday and Monday, including Roof's full manifesto and video of Roof purchasing a gun at a Columbia area gun store.
Roof wrote about Blacks, Jews, Hispanics, East Asians and patriotism, calling African Americans "stupid and violent" but "slick" at the same time, and saying he hated the sight of the American flag because "white people are being murdered daily in the streets."
On Monday, Tracy Sicks, a special agent with the FBI, testified he was involved with the investigation to preserve a now defunct website, LastRhodesian.com, that was related to the shootings at Mother Emanuel. Sicks said an online document found on the site is virtually identical to what Roof wrote in a journal found in his car.
Experts said USB drives found in Roof's car had graphic images and racist content. Investigators also recovered lists of churches in the Charleston area as well as the Midlands.
A yellow piece of paper listed Mother Emanuel AME, Morris Brown AME, Calvary Episcopal, Central Baptist, Ebenezer AME and a catholic church.
Empty ammunition boxes, an American flag, a Confederate flag, a laser attachment for a gun and glock magazine packaging inserts were also found in the car.