A handwritten jailhouse diary by convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof was read to jurors Thursday, with the panel that will decide Roof’s sentence hearing his rambling opinions on topics from various ethnic and religious groups to movies.
The writings offered few revelations about the thoughts and actions of the man who opened fire during a Bible study at an African-American church in 2015, except for a chilling admission:
“I would like to make it crystal clear. I do not regret what I did,” Roof writes. “I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.”
The 42-page diary was discovered during a search of Roof’s cell, and excerpts were read aloud by a Charleston County sheriff’s investigator for jurors and relatives and friends of the nine people who died in the shooting. As federal prosecutors introduced his writings as evidence, Roof stood and objected but he was overruled by the judge.
His rambling writings — mostly long paragraphs stretching across pages — target Jews, Muslims. Hispanics, gays, feminists, African-Americans and white people. (“White people are pretending … pretending we are all the same and equal, pretending that nothing bad is happening, and pretending like they have a future.”)
Other pages in the diary are filled with sketches, some including swastikas and crosses, and Roof’s listing of his favorite movies (among them: “Pride and Prejudice”).
The reading of the diary came on the second day of the penalty phase of Roof’s trial. Jurors are weighing whether he should be sentenced to death for the June 2015 massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Earlier Thursday, Roof asked the judge to stop “excessive” testimony from friends and family members of his victims.
Roof argued that emotional and detailed testimony is prejudicing the case against him.
“A victim’s talent as a preacher may be described without showing a video of a prayer,” Roof wrote in a motion filed in federal court.
The motion comes on the second day of the penalty phase of Roof’s trial. Jurors are weighing whether he should be sentenced to death for the June 2015 massacre at the church.
Prosecutors have listed 38 witnesses they could call as they argue that Roof deserves the death penalty, though they say it’s likely that some won’t take the stand. One key reason, they say, is that they want to show the void left behind by each person Roof killed.
“This is not remotely inappropriate testimony. Victims are entitled to tell about the death or loss that this defendant caused. We understand that is not an unlimited array of information; however, he is the one who chose to kill nine people,” Assistant US Attorney Jay Richardson said.
Friends and relatives of victims slain in the shooting have given emotional testimony, some of them sobbing on the stand.
The situation hasn’t been sitting well with Roof, who objected that too many people who weren’t family members of the victims were testifying against him.
“I also object to the extent and depth of the testimony, which is excessive and goes far beyond the ‘snapshot’ that the prosecutor claimed to be providing,” Roof wrote.
The 22-year-old avowed white supremacist suggested friends and relatives of his victims could be given a chance to speak more extensively at his sentencing, rather than before it.
“The question is not whether every family member who wishes to be heard will speak, but only when,” Roof wrote.