Unsealed Docs Depict Church Gunman as Troubled Youth Who Rejected Help

(CN) – Journalists on Tuesday morning got their first look at videos showing Charleston church gunman Dylann Roof’s jailhouse visits with his family.

Roof was convicted in December 2016 of all 33 charges he faced, including hate crimes and obstruction of religious freedom, stemming from his murdering nine people during a Bible study class at the Emanuel AME Church in June 2015.

In January, he was sentenced to death and he has since been transferred to federal death row in Indiana to await his execution.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel decided to allow journalists to view the video recordings, but his order does not allow for duplicating them and they will not be shown to the public.

As per the order, journalists can view them by appointment at the federal clerk’s office.

The release of the videos came a day after Gergel unsealed hundreds of pages of documents related to Roof’s arrest, incarceration and trial. The judge previously said he had sealed the documents to ensure Roof had an impartial jury and a fair trial.

And they come a week after Gergel released a number of psychiatric evaluations of Roof as well as the transcripts of the  two competency hearings held during Roof’s trial.

Gergel also rejected Roof’s request for a new trial, and approved his use of the stand-by counsel from his murder trial should he decide to mount an appeal.

The videos are said to reveal both the complexity of Roof as a human being, and his family’s difficulty in dealing with his being a mass murderer.

At one, Roof’s grandfather, an attorney in Columbia, South Carolina, attempts to explain the family’s anguish. Rood appears mystified.

At other times, however, Roof appears composed and intelligent, asking for a wide range of books including literary classics and historic tomes.

In January, Roof objected to releasing the videos, arguing that to do so would infringe on the privacy rights of his family members.

Roof alternatively argued that the videos did not depict him honestly because he knew he was being recorded and could not be himself.

Among other things, the unsealed documents reveal Roof rejected a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, telling his attorney, “I’m just a sociopath.”

Dr. Rachael Loftin, of Rush Medical College in Chicago, one of those hired by Roof’s defense team to perform a psychological evaluation on him, concluded the killer had autism spectrum disorder and also exhibited symptoms of  schizophrenia spectrum disorder.

In her evaluation, Loftin noted Roof did not care about the outcome of the trail. He told Loftin that he was not afraid of a possible death sentence because he believed white nationalists will overthrow the U.S. Government and rescue him in four or five years.

She listed the symptoms he exhibited during their conversations as anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, obsessive compulsive disorder, disordered thinking and delusions of grandeur.

She said he repeatedly denied any mental health problems and insisted his attorneys were making things up about him.

Roof told another psychologist who evaluated him that “only nerds and losers have autism.”

John Elder Robinson, an advocate for defendants with autism, attended a meeting with Roof and his counsel and later described Roof’s odd behavior.

During the meeting, which was held just before Roof’s murder trial was to begin, the 22-year-old was more concerned about the comfort of the clothes he would be wearing and the risk of embarrassment on Wikipedia than facing the death penalty.

Robinson noted that Roof did not want to talk about the details of the case, Instead, he kept talking about preferring the feel of the jail jumpsuit he’d been issued until he eventually agreed to wear a shirt, sweater and slacks.

The newly released documents also show that prior to the massacre at the church on June 17, 2015, Roof had been diagnosed with social anxiety on a number of different occasions.

As recounted in the documents, Roof’s mother took him to a mental health professional in Lexington County, South Carolina when he was 14 because he was smoking marijuana, taking pills and drinking alcohol.

He was a freshman in high school at the time, and in addition to his substance abuse, Roof had also begun cutting classes. Along with all this, his grades slipped from A’s to F’s.

The documents say his mother again sought help for her son after he told her he was going to run away and kill himself.

He told the therapist he spent most of his time alone in his room, did not want to stop using drugs or alcohol, and that he did not want to continue therapy.

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