Dylann Roof — the neo-Nazi who killed nine Black parishioners at a South Carolina church in 2015 — appealed his death sentence again on Wednesday, claiming the victims were portrayed too sympathetically during his federal trial.
Roof, 27, filed another petition in the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, where a three-judge panel unanimously voted last month to uphold his death sentence. This time, Roof’s lawyers asked the full court to hear his appeal — even though they all previously recused themselves because Judge Jay Richardson had prosecuted Roof’s case as an assistant U.S. attorney, the Associated Press reported.
The three judges who voted last month to uphold Roof’s death sentence were from other federal appellate circuits. During last month’s hearing, Roof’s legal team unsuccessfully argued that Roof should not have been found fit to stand trial.
They also asserted that Roof should not have been allowed to represent himself during sentencing, as he believed white nationalists would only save him if he did not disclose his mental health issues to the jury.
In 2017, Roof was convicted of 33 federal counts — including hate crimes — for fatally shooting nine parishioners during Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina, which is one of the oldest Black churches in the United States.
In state court, Roof pleaded guilty to various charges, including nine counts of murder, and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
In the latest filing, Roof’s attorneys claimed prosecutors highlighting the nine victims’ “goodness and worth” resulted in Roof unfairly being sentenced to death. His team also said the fact that the victims’ religiosity was also used to make them appear more sympathetic, according to the Independent.
It is unclear which judges will hear Roof’s most recent appeal. The Associated Press reported that if Roof is unsuccessful, he can file a 2255 appeal, ask the trial court to review the constitutionality of his conviction and sentence, appeal to the Supreme Court, or seek a presidential pardon.
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[Featured image: Dylann Roof/Charleston County Sheriff’s Office]