Roof Won’t Use Mental Health Experts to Save Life

CHARLESTON, S.C. (CN) – A federal judge postponed a conference Monday related to the sentencing phase of convicted church gunman Dylann Roof after Roof filed a handwritten note with the court saying he doesn’t want jurors to consider his mental health when they decide whether he should die for his crimes.

A jury convicted Roof of 33 federal charges  related to the murder of nine and wounding of three in at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in downtown Charleston on June 17, 2015. The jurors will return in January to decide whether he should face the death penalty for the or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

During the guilt portion of his trial, Roof was represented by a court-appointed defense team that conceded his guilt, but argued that jurors should consider their client’s mental health in their deliberations.

Roof has said he wants to represent himself during the sentencing phase of the trial, scheduled to begin on Jan 3., despite advise from U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel, who is trying the case, that he not do so.

Late Friday afternoon, Roof filed a two-sentence note with the court in which he said, “I Dylann Roof withdraw the notice relating to presenting mental health mitigation through expert testimony. I will not be calling mental health experts or presenting mental health evidence.”

Roof’s decision does not come as a surprise. In excerpts from a journal he kept that were read to the jury at trial, Roof dismissed psychology as “a Jewish invention” that ” does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they don’t.”

Roof’s lawyers unsuccessfully tried to stop him from being his own lawyer, saying he was a high-school dropout and that they feared Roof fired them because he was afraid the attorneys would present evidence that would embarrass him and his family when trying to save his life.

State prosecutors have also said they will seek the death penalty against Roof in a separate trial on nine murder charges, likely to begin sometime next year.

Judge Gergel rescheduled the pretrial conference for the sentencing phase of the trial for Dec. 28, 2016 at 10 a.m.