Convicted Charleston shooter and avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof gave a brief opening statement in court Wednesday morning, telling a jury that he wanted to represent himself so that his lawyers wouldn’t introduce evidence of mental illness.
“It isn’t because I have a mental illness that I don’t want you to know about,” he said, according to media reports. “It isn’t because I have a secret.”
In the statement made during the sentencing phase of his sentencing trial over the slaying of 9 black parishioners in 2015, Roof made no mention of the crime he confessed to committing, the victims he killed, nor the potential death sentence he faces.
Roof was convicted in December of 33 federal counts of hate crimes.
He told the jury on Wednesday there is nothing wrong with him psychologically, “other than the fact that I trust people that I shouldn’t.”
“If you happen to remember anything that my lawyers said … I ask you to forget it,” he said, referring to statements his attorney David Bruck gave before Roof’s conviction, in which he mused about Roof’s state of mind and rationality during the shooting.
Roof was restricted by US District Judge Richard Gergel in his courtroom movements, ordered to speak from behind a podium. He was barred from approaching the jury, witnesses, or the judge, according to Reuters. Roof has previously said he will not call witnesses nor offer evidence.
Roof has been ruled competent to stand trial and fit to serve as his own lawyer, despite efforts from his defence team to prove otherwise.
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