CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC/AP) - White supremacist Dylann Roof is appealing his convictions and death sentence in the killing of nine church members in downtown Charleston, according to a report by the Associated Press.
On Tuesday, Roof argued that he was suffering from schizophrenia and other psychological disorders when he represented himself at his capital trial.
In a legal brief filed with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Roof’s lawyers said that when a judge allowed him to represent himself during the penalty phase of his federal trial, he was a 22-year-old ninth-grade dropout “who believed his sentence didn’t matter because white nationalists would free him from prison after an impending race war.”
Just before his trial got underway in 2017, Roof had a competency hearing. Judge Richard Gergel ruled him competent and said he had an extremely high IQ.
Roof subsequently represented himself throughout the trial and never testified on his own behalf
Following the trial, Roof was sentenced to death after his conviction on 33 federal charges related to the June 17, 2015 massacre at Mother Emanuel AME Church.
In January of 2017, as Gergel read through the counts Roof was charged with and affirmed the jury’s decision, Roof looked straight ahead and showed no reaction. Roof then requested new representation, telling the judge that he “doesn’t trust” his standby counsel.
Gergel denied the motion stating, “I feel it would be a great loss of resources and talent...I deny your motion.”
Roof is the first person to be capitally prosecuted under the Shepard/Byrd Hate Crimes Act, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The last federal death sentence handed down was for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on June 24, 2015.
Roof is currently on death row at the penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.
He received a new federal public defender earlier this month.
On June 17, 2015, Roof entered the Emanuel AME Church at 110 Calhoun St. at approximately 8:06 p.m. where he met with parishioners who were conducting a bible study.
After approximately an hour of studying, Roof stood up, pulled out a handgun and began shooting at the parishioners inside the hall.
The tragedy claimed the lives of the church’s pastor and State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Daniel L. Simmons Sr., Rev. Sharonda Singleton and Rev. Myra Thompson.