Dylann Roof shows no remorse in closing remarks to jury
Dylann Roof is facing the death penalty, but he has no regrets, according to the final remarks he made before the jury in a Charleston, South Carolina, courthouse on Tuesday. “I didn’t have to do anything,” Roof said. “I felt like I had to do it, and I still feel like I had to do it.”
The 22-year-old Roof, a self-avowed white supremacist, was referring to the nine black parishioners he shot to death during a Bible study session at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in June 2015. The jury will soon be dismissed, after the prosecution’s rebuttal, to deliberate Roof’s fate: whether he will be sentenced to death or life in prison.
“If I was really filled with as much hate as I allegedly am, wouldn’t I just say, ‘Yes, I hate black people?’” Roof asked in his closing statements, according to reporters from the Post and Courier. “Wouldn’t it be fair to say the prosecution hates me because they are trying to get the death penalty?”
“Anyone, including the prosecution, that thinks I’m filled with hatred has no idea what hate really is,” Roof said. ‘They don’t know anything about hate.”
Roof reminded the jury that under federal law, a death sentence must be handed down with a unanimous verdict. If just one juror dissents, Roof will receive life in prison without the possibility of parole. “From what I’ve been told, I have a right to ask you to give me a life sentence,” Roof added. “But I’m not sure what good that would do anyway.”
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel granted prosecuting attorney Jay Richardson’s request for a rebuttal to Roof’s closing comments. Richardson told the jury that all Roof sought to do in his final remarks was to justify “modern-day lynching” rather than show remorse for his crime.
In his closing arguments, presented before Roof’s, Richardson reminded the jury that the defendant had worn shoes to court that were bedecked in racist symbols, such as swastikas. “He walked into court, in front of those victims, wearing those shoes,” Richardson said. “Unrepentant. No remorse.”
Richardson rehashed the contents of Roof’s diary, confiscated from his jail cell in August 2015 and presented as evidence during his trial. Roof had written “I am not sorry” and that he felt sorry for “innocent white children.”
“He had pity on himself,” Richardson said. “Sadness was reserved for little white children who had to live with African-Americans.”
Richardson also listed the aggravating factors, that under federal law, can warrant the death penalty, such as premeditation, multiple victims, and vulnerable victims, such as the elderly or unarmed. All three apply to Roof. A defendant also has to be at least 18 to receive the death penalty.