CHARLESTON, S.C. - During the sentencing phase for the South Carolina man convicted of killing nine at a black church in 2015, federal prosecutors revealed he is capable of feeling remorse.
It's just not an emotion Dylann Roof has extended to the nine victims he fatally shot at Emanuel African Methodist Emanuel Church, they said Wednesday. Roof was convicted last month of 33 federal counts in the deaths of the black parishioners.
Here is Roof, in his own words:
Letter to Roof's mother, found in his car the day after the June 17, 2015, shooting
“I know that what I did will have reprecussions [sic] on my whole family, and for this I am truly sorry,” he wrote. “At this moment, I miss you very much, and as childish as it sounds I wish I was in your arms.”
During interview with FBI agents that same afternoon, Roof said he felt remorse
“I think it’s too soon,” he told the agent.
Six weeks after the shootings, officials found writings in Roof's jail cell that indicated he continued to uphold the racist ideologies that led him to Mother Emanuel on June 17, 2015.
The shootings and his loss of freedom were worth it, Roof wrote on lined paper, saying that he couldn’t live with himself if he did nothing as he watched “these things happen to my people.”
“I would like to make it crystal clear I do not regret what I did. I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed,” he wrote, and later continued, “I have shed a tear of self-pity for myself. I feel pity that I had to do what I did in the first place.”
On preventing defense based on mental health
Roof, in his own address to the panel, offered no response to the damning new evidence, saying that his own opening statement “is going to seem a little bit out of place after the prosecution’s.”
“But it’s not because I have a mental illness that I don't want you to know about. It isn't because I'm trying to keep a secret from you,” Roof said. “Eventually those will become part of the public record. In that respect, my self-representation accomplishes nothing. So you could say what's the point? The point is that I'm not going to lie to you, either myself or through anyone else.”
Jab at former lead counselor, David Bruck
Roof told the panel to forget what his attorney told them: “I know none of it is worth remembering anyway.”
During the penalty phase, Bruck hinted that something is fundamentally wrong with Roof's brain, but could not elaborate on mental health issues, which are typically addressed in the sentencing phase of a trial.
“You were surely looking for remorse and you didn’t see very much, and I’ll be the first to acknowledge that,” Bruck told jurors of a client who appeared disengaged throughout the proceedings. “But if you have to do something, remorse is not a logical emotion. You don’t feel remorseful for what you think you had to do.”
Jurors are expected to hear more about the jail writings as the sentencing phase progresses.
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