Church Gunman Tells Jurors ‘Not Sure’ Pleading for Life Would Do Any Good

(CN) – Convicted Charleston church gunman Dylann Roof addressed the jury that will begin weighing whether to give him the death penalty Tuesday afternoon, saying, “from what I’ve been told, I have the right to ask you to give me a life sentence, but I’m not sure what good that would do anyway.”

In a brief, but rambling closing statement, Roof, who was convicted in December of killing nine parishioners at a historic black church in Charleston, said, “I think it’s safe to say no one in their right mind would go in a church and shoot people. In my confession I told FBI I had to, but that’s not really true.

“I didn’t have to do anything. No one made me.  What I meant was I felt like I had to do it and I still feel like I had to do it,” he said.

“Wouldn’t it be fair to say the prosecution hates me since they are trying to give me the death penalty?” Roof continued.

“Of course they do. Everyone hates me. They have good reason. I’m not denying anyone hates me. But I would say in this case the prosecution, along with anybody else who hates me, they are the ones who have been misled,” he said.

“Anyone, including the prosecution, who thinks I’m filled with hatred has no idea what real hate is,” Roof added. “They don’t know anything about hate. They don’t know what real hatred looks like. They think they do, but they don’t really.”

Roof concluded his statement by reminding the jurors that only one of them has to disagree with giving him the death penalty to spare his life.

But in a rebuttal, prosecutor Jay Richardson said, “This is a defendant that continues to believe it is worth it … that he has done the right thing.”

“Dylann Roof didn’t mitigate what he did during this trial or his closing statement. he wanted to justify modern day lynching. Don’t let that be,” Richardson said.

“Render the full measure of justice for this defendant. Sentence this defendant to death,” he said.

But the jury and those in the courtroom hadn’t heard the last from Roof. He asked U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel to allow his standby counsel, David Bruck to raise his objections to the charge being read to the jury.

After Gergel granted the motion, Bruck, of the Washington and Lee School of Law in Virginia, argued Roof should have been allowed to introduce evidence that he wouldn’t be “problematic” if he were sentenced to life in prison.

He was referring to an assertion from the prosecution that if Roof were jailed for the rest of his life, he would spend his days trying to foment racial hatred and distributing racist material.

Bruck also said that inflammatory writing that Roof committed to paper while in jail should not have been made public, and finally, that the jury should have been instructed on both “gateway” and “mitigating” factors before they started weighing Roof’s fate.

The jury began its deliberations at 1:34 p.m.