A transcript of Dylann Roof’s opening statement at the penalty portion of his murder trial displayed ongoing tensions between Roof and his legal defense team, who have long been trying to demonstrate that their client is mentally incompetent, a notion that Roof rejects wholesale.
On Wednesday, Roof presented a brief opening statement to the jurors who will decide if he will be given the death penalty for the Charleston, South Carolina, church massacre that killed nine African-Americans during a prayer service.
“There’s nothing wrong with my psychologically,” Roof told the jurors. “Anything you heard from the last phase (of the trail), I ask you to forget it.”
Roof had previously written of his disregard for psychology in a journal entry obtained by the Associated Press. “It is a Jewish invention and does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they don’t,” he reportedly wrote.
Before and during the trial, Roof’s defense attorneys have been fighting for control of the legal proceedings. Previously during the trial, Roof had petitioned to represent himself, though he reversed his request in early December and asked that his legal team be re-instated for the guilt portion of the trial, but that he would be permitted to represent himself during the sentencing portion.
Roof has long resisted his defense’s attempts to spare him the death penalty by arguing that he is mentally ill. Roof’s lawyers had previously tried to argue that he was incompetent to stand trial at all, and Roof underwent psychiatric evaluation. Judge Richard Gergel of the United States District found that he was capable of understanding the proceedings and aid in his own defense. By this reasoning, Gergel was further compelled to grant Roof’s request to represent himself.
Roof was found guilty of all 33 federal charges on December 15.
Photo: Charleston Police Department