Six days of testimony from law enforcement officers, criminal investigators and people who witnessed the murder of nine people in a church basement last year in Charleston, S.C ended Wednesday.
Dylann Roof, 22, faces 33 federal hate crimes charges for allegedly opening fire during a bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015.
In the past week, forensics experts, FBI agents and various law enforcement officers presented evidence, including a recorded confession by Roof, and excerpts of a journal he kept that both appeared to show he had been planning the massacre for months, and had deliberately targeted the church in order to kill black people.
The federal government’s final witness was Polly Sheppard, 72, a retired nurse who survived the shooting even as she watched her friends die around her.
I was sitting there thinking about whether I should do it or not,” Roof told investigators, referring to the time he spent with the people studying the Bible before he murdered them. “That’s why I was sitting there for 15 minutes.”
At one point in the video, Roof laughed and said, “I am guilty. We all know I’m guilty.”
The Associated Press reported that Roof told investigators he thought he might have killed five people, and that 45 minutes into the interview, “an FBI agent decided to tell [Roof] nine people died in the … shootings.”
According to the AP, Roof responded incredulously, “There wasn’t even that many people in there. Are you lying to me?”
After learning more about those he killed and wounded, one of the interviewers asked how Roof felt.
“Well, it makes me feel bad,” he said.
Roof also discussed his motives for murdering nine black people at the historically black church, reported Olgin. “We already are the second-class citizens” Roof said, referring to white people. “That’s the problem.”
Roof’s defense lawyer, David Bruck, did not dispute that his client committed the heinous crimes but asked the jury to consider why the 22-year-old white man was so motivated by racial hatred. No witnesses were called in during the trial by Roof’s attorneys as they felt it may cause more harm than good with regard to the death penalty.