After going back and forth with his lawyers several times over who would represent him during the sentencing portion of his trial, convicted murderer Dylann Roof stood in front of the jury and insisted that he is perfectly sane.
Roof killed nine black churchgoers in 2015 at Charleston’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church after they welcomed him into their bible study group. The Guardian reports that on Wednesday, deliberations over whether Roof would face the death penalty began. Roof wished to represent himself for this aspect of his trial, and his attorneys indicated that it was because he worried that they might reveal something embarrassing about himself or his family in an attempt to get him life in prison.
Roof stood in front of the jury for his opening statement, insisting there was “nothing wrong with him psychologically and that he was not trying to keep any secrets from them.”
“My opening statement is going to seem a little bit out of place,” the soft-spoken 22-year-old white man said calmly as he stood in front of a podium, occasionally glancing at notes. “I am not going to lie to you ... Other than the fact that I trust people that I shouldn’t and the fact that I’m probably better at constantly embarrassing myself than anyone who’s ever existed, there’s nothing wrong with me psychologically.”
Roof has said he doesn’t plan to call witnesses or introduce evidence in his defense. The prosecutors are scheduled to bring in 38 family members of the nine parishioners killed to testify about their loss. They also read aloud a passage from Roof’s journal, in which he wrote six weeks after he was arrested that he had not cried for any of his victims. Roof wrote, “I remember how I felt when I did these things and how I knew I had to do something and then I realize it was worth it,” adding, “I would like to make it crystal clear. I do not regret what I did. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.”