Roof Trial: FBI agent testifies on Roof's writings; victims' loved ones testify

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
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

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - New details emerged about the convicted Charleston church shooter's alleged racist history as an FBI agent testified in a sentencing hearing Friday.

FBI special agent Joseph Hamski spoke about handwritten letters by Dylann Roof as well as Roof's account on a white supremacist website. Roof posted on StormFront, which Hamski described as a networking site for white nationalists, under the screen name "LilAryan."

In one post on that website, the FBI agent said Roof wrote, "I consider myself very well-versed in racism."

The FBI said it was also able to find messages Roof sent to other users on the site, and it appears he was trying to find someone with similar views in the Columbia area to meet up with.

Hamski showed photos taken in August 2015 of a Celtic cross on the defendant's prison shoes. Hamski said he has seen Roof's shoes since, spotting white supremacist symbols on them as recently as Monday.

He also spoke about a racist letter found in Roof's jail cell six weeks after the June 17, 2015, attack on the Mother Emanuel AME Church.

In that handwritten note, he wrote that he's not sorry for what he did and explained his white nationalist views.

Roof's jailhouse writings reference a "United White Front," a coalition of groups such as skinheads, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis banning together, Hamski said.

The government, in this sentencing phase, is trying to show and several "aggravating factors" to send Roof to death row.

The jury also heard testimony from family members and friends of shooting victims Cynthia Hurd, Ethel Lance, and Susie Jackson.

In an emotional testimony, former Charlotte Councilman and North Carolina Senator Malcom Graham said his life was empty without his sister Cynthia Graham Hurd, who was killed in the incident. 

Graham talked about how his sister worked for the Charleston County library system for 33 years. He remembers taking lunch to her and seeing everyone from children to people who were homeless greet and hug her.

Roof, 22, was convicted before Christmas on charges including hate crime in the June 2015 deaths of nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston. Now in the penalty phase of the trial, the same jury will decide whether Roof will be given a sentence of life in prison or death.

Thursday was an emotional day in court

Family members and friends of the nine victims of the Charleston church shootings sobbed through testimony Thursday.

Denise Quarles said her mother Myra Thompson liked to be called "Granny," was strict on her as a child and stressed the importance of education. She credited her mom with providing her tools that would eventually lead to her career.

Weeks before the shooting, Thompson told her how proud she was of her daughter and how independent she was.

"If I've never told you before, I want you to know I'm proud of you," Quarles recalled her mother saying.

She referenced the shooting at Mother Emanuel, becoming more emotional as she said her mother died welcoming a stranger into the church where she grew up. "For that to happen, where I call home, it pisses me off," Quarles said.

Rita Whidbee met Sharonda Coleman-Singleton in college.

"Sharonda was anything any friend could ever want," she said.

Singleton served as her maid of honor, and was there for her when she had a divorce. During her split with her husband, Singleton gave her an envelope that contained a signed blank check.

"'Write it for whatever you need, and there's more where that came from,'" Singleton said.

"I believe that DePayne has always had a calling," Bethane Middleton Brown said about her sister DePayne Middleton Doctor. "She always sought to appease God by way of her faith." Doctor had a passion for helping single mothers, taking part in prison ministry and being active in her church, she said.

Her four daughters generally went to Bible study with her but didn't go the night of the shooting, Brown said.

Roof files objection to prosecutors hugging witnesses 

Roof filed a motion on Thursday saying that it was inappropriate that the prosecution was hugging witnesses during the penalty phase of the trial.

The motion specifically described an instance when Brown was on the stand.

According to the court document, the lead prosecutor continued to question Middleton until she "was crumpled in her seat and sobbing loudly."

Roof says after a break was requested, "both the prosecutor and advocate" hugged her as the "jury filed out within feet of her."

In addition, Roof asked in the motion to adjust the schedule of the trial to permit more breaks as "everyone in the courtroom is struggling with the emotional nature" of the testimony.

"Lots of people have been crying-jurors, courtroom personnel, audience members, even the Court and counsel for the government." the motion stated."Out of consideration for all involved, especially the jurors, and for the integrity of the proceedings, I request that the Court consider adjusting the schedule of the trial to permit more breaks."

The motion also stated that the court should preview all video and audio evidence for prejudicial content. The motion cites Roof's general objection that the "victim impact evidence is excessive and prejudicial."

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