Dylann Roof appeared in court in July, 2015 in connection with the shooting at the Mother Emanuel AME Church. (Source: Live 5)
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -
New documents unsealed in federal court reveal Dylann Roof’s parents tried to get help for his drug usage when he was just 14 years old.
The documents were filed by his defense attorneys as part of his November competency hearing, which was closed to the public.
The documents were sealed at that time and were unsealed Monday.
The records include a March 2009 report from Lexington County Community Mental Health when he was 14 years old. At the time, according to the report, Roof told his mom he planned to run away and kill himself
She told therapists Roof was frequently smoking pot and taking pills, sometimes drinking alcohol, as early as age twelve and thirteen. The notes on the record indicate Roof did not plan to stop smoking pot and tried to convince his mom it wasn’t a big deal.
His grades and attendance was slipping at school, per the records. He was diagnosed with anxiety and cannabis dependence. Roof eventually dropped out of the treatment program in September against the advice of his parents and the therapists there.
More medical records documented a time period in 2014 and 2015 when a doctor said Roof had “tremendous anxiety” about having thyroid problems.
He was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, but the doctor told him he didn’t need to worry too much and they’d start medication after a few months if it didn’t get better. The medical records show Roof called the doctor’s office very anxious and wanted to get on medication as soon as possible. In those records, Roof admitted on the intake forms that he drank some alcohol but denied any drug usage during that time.
Roof also had health evaluations while in jail after the shooting in Charleston. He was eventually taken off suicide watch in August of 2015. He had high blood pressure sometimes, according to the reports. He was worried about his hair falling out, which he believed was related to thyroid problems. Documents show on at least eleven occasions, Roof refused to the let the clinical services employees in the jail check him over.
Dr. Rachel Loftin of Rush Medical College in Chicago was hired by Roof’s defense team to evaluate him for autism. In court documents, she says she came to Charleston three times to interview and test Roof. She also interviewed his family members.
Dr. Loftin diagnosed Roof with autism spectrum disorder. She also noted he had psychiatric symptoms not explained by autism and said his symptoms were “consistent with the schizophrenia spectrum.”
In a letter to the court, Dr. Loftin wrote, “During one of my sessions with Mr. Roof, he told me that he was not afraid of receiving a death sentence, because it would never be carried out. He anticipates he will be rescued by white nationalists after they take over the government. For this reason, the outcome of his trial does not matter.”
The defense team also worked with John Elder Robinson, an adult with autism who is a consultant for court cases and offers first-hand knowledge. He described going to the jail with Roof’s attorneys and what it was like to meet Roof.
He described the weekend before the trial started and said Roof’s attorneys had to coax him to focus on the trial and that Roof was reluctant to discuss it and stay focused.
Robinson said Roof’s attorneys encouraged the defendant to wear regular clothes to court instead of his jail jumpsuit. Roof apparently found his jumpsuit comfortable and was very reluctant to agree to wear anything else without seeing pictures of the clothing and asking questions about the fabrics, styles, weights, textures, and designs.
“Mr. Roof’s fixation on the details seemed to me clearly obsessive,” Robinson wrote.
Roof was also concerned about his Wikipedia page. Robinson wrote, “I could not help but marvel at the idea that Mr. Roof was on trial for his life and he seemed more concerned with the feel of his clothes and the risk of personal embarrassment over his depiction on Wikipedia.”
Speaking alone with Roof, Mr. Robinson said Roof thanked him for coming but said he didn’t need help. “I’m not autistic. There’s nothing wrong with me. The state psychiatrist told me there is nothing wrong with me. He said I don’t have autism. I’m just a sociopath.”
Robinson wrote, “It appeared that Mr. Roof was comfortable with the idea of being seen as a sociopath, and I actually saw a brief bigger smile at those words. Mr. Roof did not seem to realize the jurors in his upcoming trial would not be likely to share his seemingly positive view of sociopathy.”
“Nerds and losers have autism,” Robinson says Roof told him. “I’m going to get pardoned in four or five years. This doesn’t matter. Please don’t come here and testify for me.”
Robinson wrote that he saw many traits of autism in Roof. But the “detachment from reality and psychosis” are not traits of autism. He compared it to his evaluation and evidence of Newtown killer Adam Lanza. Robinson was concerned the jury would not understand Roof’s personality and appearance of apathy in court and felt that information should be explained to the jurors. Robinson also worried about Roof having a meltdown in court if the routine wasn’t predictable.
One document was unsealed Monday in relation to Roof’s January competency hearing. It is a list, presumably written by Roof, about what questions he would ask Father John Parker on the stand. Parker is a Mt. Pleasant priest who visited him in jail and attended the federal trial.
U.S. District Court Officials said four video exhibits November 21-22 and January 2 will not be uploaded. The videos will be shown at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 16 at the federal courthouse. No copies of the videos will be distributed. They will be available to view by appointment after Tuesday.