‘I’m Not Going to Lie to You’ Dylann Roof Tells Jury at Sentencing Trial
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WOLO) – Dylann Roof delivered a very brief opening statement in federal court on Wednesday as the penalty phase of his trial got underway.
Roof, acting as his own attorney, spoke for the first time to the jury that will decide if he should be sentenced to death or life in prison for fatally shooting nine black parisioners during bible study.
Roof’s opening statement focused on his attorneys and explained why he wanted to represent himself.
“The point is I’m not going to lie to you,” Roof said as he addressed the jury. “There’s nothing wrong with me psychologically.”
Roof said he wanted to make it crystal clear that he is not mentally ill.
“Other than trusting the wrong people there is nothing wrong with me,” Roof said.
The prosecution went shortly before Roof, giving a passionate opening statement that caused some of the victim family members to cry.
Attorney Nathan Williams told the jury that this phase of the trial will be heartbreaking and the evidence they’re about to see will be far worse than what they’ve already seen.
The prosecution presented a jailhouse journal which focused on the lack of remorse Roof had for the killings.
Williams said Roof wrote a letter six weeks after the shooting saying he’s not sorry for what he did and that he hasn’t shed a tear for the innocent people he killed.
The first witness was Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s widow, Jennifer Pinckney took the stand and told stories from her marriage and how he called his youngest their little grasshopper.
“He was the person that I think every mom would be happy that their daughter met,” Jennifer said of Clementa.
She spoke about how much he cared for others.
“He was for the people,” Jennifer said. “He was the voice for the voiceless.”
On the night of the shooting Jennifer said she was inside Clementa’s office with her youngest daughter who ate snacks and watched cartoons. Jennifer said she heard a loud noise and thought it was a generator, but once she realized it was gunshots she quickly locked the office doors and hid under Clementa’s desk with their daughter.
“She never heard me be that firm with her, ” Jennifer said. “I told her to shut up and be quiet.”
Jennifer said her daughter asked if ‘Daddy was going to die’ when bullets came through the walls. She replied no.
Jennifer called 911 shortly after the shooting stopped. While she was on the phone with dispatch her daughter kept asking ‘is daddy dead,’ and Jennifer assured her no. However Jennifer said when Clementa didn’t come into that office she knew he was dead.
“If he was alive he would’ve came looking for us,” Jennifer said.
Police eventually came into Clementa’s office and carried Jennifer’s daughter Malana out. They told her to keep her eyes closed while they brought her out of the office.
“It wasn’t my time or my daughters time, “Jennifer said when asked why she thought her life was spared. “I don’t see God taking both parents. My daughter would’ve lost both of her parents, and her sister.”
The jury also heard from another widower, Anthony Thompson, who lost his wife Myra during the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston.
Anthony was very emotional. He broke down several times when he talked about his wife and their love.
“She’s everything I had, she was everything I ever wanted,” Anthony said crying on the stand while speaking about Myra. “My life will never be the same.”
The sentencing phase will continue Thursday at 9:30 a.m where more victim family and friends are expected to take the stand.