By DAN MCCUE
(CN) – A federal judge in Charleston, S.C. denied a defense motion for a mistrial Thursday morning in the trial the man charged in the murders of nine people at a historic black church in 2015.
Attorneys for Dylann Roof, the man accused of killing the nine parishioners and wounding three others at the conclusion of a Bible study class, based their mistrial request on the testimony of the trial’s first witness, who called the defendant “evil” before jurors on Wednesday.
Felicia Sanders, who survived the shooting in the basement of the Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston, but saw two loved one’s die, called Roof “evil” and said, “There’s no place on earth for him except the pit of hell.”
The attorneys said they felt they couldn’t object to Sanders’ statement when it was made because they would have appeared insensitive to her “obvious and understandable stress.”
Nevertheless, they said, such statements should not have been made in the courtroom.
But U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said the defense should have raised the issue in a more timely manner.
A footnote in the motion says Roof’s mother was admitted to an area hospital with a heart attack after opening statements.