Convicted Charlestown church shooter Dylann Roof is asking for a new federal trial after he was given the death penalty last month.
Roof, who from his quick arrest following the massacre admitted that he killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 15, and maintained in his closing statements at the sentencing that he “still [felt] like he had to do it,” requested a new trial through his attorneys on Friday, claiming that federal prosecutors did not have jurisdiction to bring the case — in particular, his lawyers reportedly said, the trial did not sufficiently prove that Roof was guilty of federal religious obstruction charges.
According to the Associated Press, the motion filed by Roof’s attorneys on Friday argues that the case’s jurisdiction should be limited to South Carolina, and that Roof’s “incidental use” of highways, the internet and other areas encompassed by the commerce clause was not adequate evidence to be convicted of religious obstruction, which is the federal crime of damaging a house of worship or interfering with a person’s ability to exercise their religious faith.
According to Buzzfeed, Roof’s lawyers are not challenging the life sentence convictions, but the charges that led to the imposition of the death penalty. Roof represented himself during the sentencing phase of his murder trial, as he vehemently objected to his attorneys introducing a discussion of his mental health.
In his jailhouse journals, Roof reportedly referred to psychiatry as a “Jewish invention and does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they don’t.”
Roof is in custody in Charleston, awaiting the start of his state death penalty trial.
Photo: Charleston Police Department