The federal judge overseeing the hate crimes trial of Dylann Roof denied a request by defense attorneys to allow evidence of his state of mind to be admitted during an antagonistic debate Friday morning.
In the request submitted Friday, Roof’s attorneys argued that submitting evidence of his state of mind was necessary, since the prosecution raised the issue during opening statements when referring to Roof as having “a cold and hateful heart.”
His attorneys said a 21-year-old’s brain is still developing, making a person of that age likely to be more impulsive and more vulnerable to outside influences.
Plus, a suicidal person is “highly likely to have a compromised capacity for decision-making and planning.” Roof allegedly told a survivor of the shooting he intended to commit suicide once he left the church.
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Roof, a 22-year-old, Columbia area man, is accused of killing nine black parishioners at a Charleston’s Mother Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015.
But U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel argued that the fact Roof was suicidal is irrelevant to his guilt. He also told Roof’s lead attorney, David Bruck, that he would not allow the defense to open a “back door” to raising the issue of Roof’s sanity or mental competency.
Gergel also expressed frustration with the defense’s Friday request. He called on Bruck to object to evidence during court instead of waiting until the next day to file motions disputing testimony.
Bruck told Gergel, however, that there was nothing to object to; that he was requesting evidence be admitted for the trial. Gergel declined that request.
Testimony resumed around 10 a.m. The jury is expected to see Roof’s alleged video confession later today.