Rejected Mental Health Defense
Roof represented himself in court. Although Judge Richard Gergel called the move “strategically unwise,” Roof had a legal right to serve as his own lawyer after being found competent to stand trial, according to the New York Times.
He rejected a defense based on his mental health — which might have been his best defense to avoid the death penalty, according to the Times.
“I want to state that I am morally opposed to psychology,” Roof wrote in a journal found in his car. “It is a Jewish Invention, and does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they don’t.”
Earlier this month, Roof wrote to Judge Gergel that he would “not be calling mental health experts or presenting mental health evidence.”
Roof did not call any witnesses or present any evidence during the sentencing phase of the trial. He will be remanded to custody and will be formally sentenced on Wednesday.
By law, he is allowed to appeal the decision. He also faces a state trial in South Carolina, which has been postponed.
“We want to express our sympathy to all of the families who were so grievously hurt by Dylann Roof’s actions,” Roof’s lawyers said in a statement, according to reporter Maurice Chammah. “Today’s sentencing decision means that this case will not be over for a very long time.”
Roof’s family also released a statement following the sentencing, according to Chammah: “We are Dylann Roof’s family. We will always love Dylann. We will struggle as long as we live to understand why he committed this horrible attack, which caused so much pain to so many good people.
“We wish to express the grief we feel for the victims of his crimes, and our sympathy to the many families he has hurt. We continue to pray for the Emanuel AME families and the Charleston community.”