Dylann Roof, the gunman who shot down nine people at a Charleston, South Carolina church 17 months ago has asked for a limit on the number of people allowed to give impact statements, saying they are unfairly influencing the jury.
Last month Roof was convicted of 33 counts of hate crimes in the slaughter of nine parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in June 2015.
Jurors are deciding whether Roof should face life in prison or the death penalty. Prosecutors plan to call as many as 38 witnesses to give statements before the jury in a key part of the penalty phase.
Roof, 22, has admitted to the killings but is trying to avoid lethal injection. Acting as his own attorney in the sentencing phase, he contends since he isn’t planning any counterarguments, prosecutors should have a limit to the number of witnesses they call.
“If I don’t present any mitigation evidence, the victim-impact evidence will take over the whole sentencing trial and guarantee that I get the death penalty,” Roof wrote in one of his requests, unsealed Thursday. “I also think that victim-impact witness should include only relatives — not friends or co-workers — of the victims. And that victim impact testimony should be limited to a ‘quick glimpse’ of the victims’ lives.”
Earlier this week, Roof told jurors he is not sorry for the crimes and has no psychological issues.
UPI reported prosecutors have been cautioned by District Judge Richard Gergel to not let the impact statements run too long.
One prosecutor said it’s “important that the government and these individuals are allowed to tell the stories of their loved ones.”