Published: Thu, December 29, 2016
National | By Traci Kelley

Roof: No Witnesses, Evidence in My Defense

Roof was convicted of all 33 counts on Thursday.

A white supremacist who killed nine black worshippers in a church in SC will offer no evidence to spare his own life at a hearing.

Roof was represented by David Bruck, a famed federal public defender in death penalty cases, after backtracking on his initial plan to represent himself during the guilt phase of his trial.

Roof appeared at the hearing in his striped gray jail jumpsuit, handcuffed and shackled at the ankles.

"On Sunday, Roof sent a handwritten letter to the judge asking that his lawyers be allowed to represent him in the first phase of the trial, during which evidence is presented, but not during the sentencing phase, in which arguments will be presented for and against the death penalty".

Based on notebooks found in his vehicle and elsewhere, Roof wrote of being moved by the killing of Trayvon Martin in which he sided with the black teen's killer, George Zimmerman.

Roof did not indicate whether he planned to testify on his own behalf.

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Gergel also told Roof he will give him until the start of the penalty proceedings to change his mind about serving as his own counsel.

Gergel told Roof to talk to his grandfather, who is a lawyer, and other family members one last time.

Roof also reaffirmed his decision not to present evidence related to his mental health.

Following those proceedings, Gergel determined Roof could represent himself, but the evidence that was presented has not been disclosed.

On Wednesday, he was in court for a scheduled hearing.

"You know my feeling on this", Gergel said. He said he has reached no decision on the matter but is concerned about the potential impact of unsealing that information before Roof stands trial for murder in state court.

During Wednesday's hearing, prosecutors agreed to stipulate to mitigating factors including that Roof has no criminal conviction history and that he offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence.

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