Condemned church shooter Roof to appeal death sentence

COLUMBIA, SC (AP/WCSC) - Attorneys for the white supremacist sentenced to death for killing nine worshippers at a Charleston church filed notice Tuesday they were appealing his conviction and sentence to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Roof was sentenced to death in January in connection with the shooting deaths of nine parishioners of Mother Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015. He had been convicted in December on 33 federal charges in the killings.

Earlier this month, the federal judge who presided over Roof's trial rejected his first appeal, ruling the conviction and death sentence for the massacre should stand.

Roof argued his crime didn't fit the definition of interstate commerce needed for a federal case. The judge ruled Roof used a telephone to call the church and the bullets and gun were manufactured in a different state.

On May 11, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel granted a motion by Roof to replace his trial attorneys, David Bruck, Kimberly Stevens and Emily Paavola, effective when Roof files a notice of appeal. The trial attorneys will be replaced by attorneys of the Federal Defender Offices for the Central Districts of California and Maryland, court documents state.

Roof told a court-appointed psychologist during a competency exam he felt his trial attorneys had tricked and manipulated him, adding that if he ever got out of prison, he would kill Bruck, according to a competency evaluation report.

In April, he agreed to plead guilty to 13 state charges that included nine counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and a weapons charge for life sentences without parole.

Copyright 2017 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.