Dylann Roof will not present mental health evidence during sentencing

Letter written by Dylann Roof to the judge - Dec. 12, 2016.
Letter written by Dylann Roof to the judge - Dec. 12, 2016.

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Dylann Roof says he will not be presenting mental health evidence in the sentencing phase of his federal trial scheduled for next month.

Roof, who was found guilty in federal court on Thursday for the Mother Emanuel AME slayings of nine parishioners, wrote a letter on Friday to U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel stating that he would not be submitting evidence or calling experts to testify regarding mental health.

I, Dylann Roof, withdraw the notice relating to presenting mental health mitigation through expert testimony. I will not be calling mental health experts or presenting mental health evidence. Dylann Roof 

Roof was found guilty on Thursday on all 33 charges in federal court for the June 2015 downtown Charleston church shooting which took the lives of nine people including Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

The jury is expected to return on Jan. 3, 2017 to hear additional testimony during the sentencing phase of the proceedings.

When all that additional evidence is presented during that phase, the panel will then vote to either place Roof in prison for the rest of his life without the possibility of parole, or give him the ultimate punishment by sentencing him to death.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel also signed an order filed Friday stating Roof will be allowed to represent himself during the penalty phase of his trial.

Gergel said he conferred with Roof immediately following the jury's verdict to confirm that Roof still wished to represent himself.

"I informed him that he had a constitutional right to counsel and a constitutional right to self-representation, but not a right to both," Gergel wrote in the order.

Gergel said he informed Roof standby counsel would be "primarily consultative in nature" and that Roof would be forced to appear before the jury, question witnesses and represent himself in court if he represented himself. Gergel stated he also told Roof counsel would not be allowed to file anything on his behalf without Roof himself first requesting it and obtaining authorization from the court.

Roof told the judge he had "carefully weighed" advice from his defense team and his family before coming to the decision that he still wanted to represent himself, the order states.

Gergel told Roof he has until Jan. 3, 2017 to change his mind about representing himself.

On Thursday, the jury took less than two hours to reach their verdict of guilty on all 33 counts Roof was charged with.

Family members of victims held hands and squeezed one another's arms as the verdicts were read. One woman nodded her head every time the clerk said "guilty."

Jurors convicted Roof of hate crimes, obstruction of religion and weapons charges.

Roof was found guilty in the deaths of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Rev. Daniel Simmons, 74; and Myra Thompson, 59.

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