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Charleston shooter not to call witnesses, offer evidence

A young American convicted of a deadly mass shooting at a black church in South Carolina says he will not call witnesses or offer evidence in an effort to avoid a death penalty.

On Wednesday, Dylann Roof reaffirmed that he was not going to make any efforts to save his life in the penalty phase of his trial over the murder of nine people.

His decision faced disagreement from US Judge Richard Gergel, who called on him to discuss the matter with his parents and lawyers first.

“‘I think it’s a bad idea,” Gergel said, noting that he is allowed to change his mind before the penalty phase gets under way.

Roof also demanded that details of his mental health situation remain secret, further asking the judge not to release interviews about his competency or the transcript from a hearing on the topic.

“The unsealing of the competency hearing is sort of against the purpose of my representing myself,” he said.

Victims of the Charleston attack 

In what seemed to be a racially motivated assault, the 22-year-old opened fire on participants of an evening Bible study class at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015 with a 45-caliber Glock handgun. Three people survived the massacre.

He joined the Bible study at the church and stayed an hour with the eventual victims before removing a gun from a small pack he was wearing. The white man went on a shooting rampage, killing eight African Americans on the spot. Another victim died in hospital later.

Roof was arrested one day after the shooting incident and charged with murdering nine people.

In his website, Roof vehemently denounced African Americans and appeared in photographs with guns and burning the US flag.

The attack reignited the debate about racism and gun violence in America.


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