Dylann Roof calls testimony from victims' families 'unfair'

Jailhouse manifesto read in court

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A drawing of Jesus found in the journal discovered in Dylann Roof's jail cell - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • A drawing of Jesus found in the journal discovered in Dylann Roof's jail cell
In the midst of emotional testimony from the families of his victims, Dylann Roof filed a motion Thursday challenging the number of witnesses expected to be called by federal prosecutors.

“The government says that it is going to call 38 family members and friends of the victims,” states the motion signed by Roof. “It is not fair to allow that much testimony to be heard by the jury when I am not presenting any evidence — from my family or anyone else — in mitigation.”

Roof also noted in a separate filing that he and his standby attorneys have noticed that many in the courtroom are struggling with the emotional nature of the testimony. In the first two days of testimony in the sentencing phase of Roof’s federal trial, jurors have already heard from almost a dozen family members of the victims and listened as Jennifer Pinckney recounted the harrowing evening that she and her six-year-old daughter hid under a desk as Roof murdered her husband just yards away.

“Lots of people have been crying — jurors, courtroom, personnel, audience members, even the court and counsel for the government,” reads Roof’s motion regarding courtroom decorum.

The large amount of testimony expected to be presented by the prosecution has drawn some criticism from U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel, who has warned attorneys for the government to rethink their strategy and consider working more efficiently. U.S. assistant attorney Jay Richardson told Gergel Thursday that the prosecution expects to wrap up its case on Monday. Meanwhile, Roof’s pending state trial, originally scheduled to begin with jury selection on Jan. 17, has been postponed indefinitely as the federal trial approaches its final days. 

Dylann Roof's jailhouse notebook featured several pages depicting swastikas and his own self-designed logo - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Dylann Roof's jailhouse notebook featured several pages depicting swastikas and his own self-designed logo
Thursday’s court proceedings ended with a reading of Roof’s jailhouse manifesto. While screening Roof’s mail, Lauren Knapp with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office noticed something strange about a handwritten letter he had attempted to send, and further investigation led to a search of Roof's cell on Aug. 3, 2015. Not only was it the first letter that he attempted to send since his arrest, the note was soon found to be an excerpt copied from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, a novel from the late 1700s that told the story of a young man driven to suicide by unrequited love.

Concerned that Roof may be planning to harm himself, his jail cell was searched. Inside, authorities found drawings and a lengthy journal expanding on the racist ideology espoused in his other writings. In between his descriptions of Jewish people, Muslims, Christians, homosexuals, and Asians, Roof takes several pages to list his favorite movies, including Titanic, The Notebook, Pride and Prejudice, Rebel Without a Cause, and 12 Years a Slave, which he described by writing, “Even though it is anti-white and unrealistic, the cinematography is beautiful.”

While decrying the current state of the world as he sees it and expounding more white nationalist ideals, Roof attempted to dismiss a few rumors that he had apparently heard to better explain his crime.

“I did not do it because of a girl. Many of the people who claimed to have known me, I have never heard of in my life,” Roof wrote. “Anything these so-called friends have said about me should be interpreted as lies. I haven’t had a black friend in years and have never had a close black friend.”


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