The Latest: FBI agent: Roof took backroads after shooting

AP News
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Posted: Dec 13, 2016 5:14 PM
The Latest: FBI agent: Roof took backroads after shooting

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on the federal death penalty trial of a man accused of killing nine black people during a South Carolina church Bible study (all times local):

5:15 p.m.

An FBI agent says the man who shot nine people during Bible study at a South Carolina church used backroads to flee the city of Charleston.

That's according to testimony Tuesday from the lead FBI agent who built the case against Dylann Roof.

Joseph Hamski testified GPS data show Roof stayed off interstates and main highways when he left Charleston the night of June 17, 2015.

Also during Hamski's testimony, prosecutors played videos of Roof practicing firing his handgun, shooting at various objects in a yard and quickly reloading more ammunition. He also practices shooting at a telephone book he's tossed into the air.

In his videotaped confession played for jurors last week, Roof told FBI agents he took several magazines with him to the church but saved some bullets so he could kill himself if police awaited him outside.

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3:20 p.m.

The lead FBI agent investigating the slayings of nine people at a South Carolina church says authorities conducted more than 200 interviews in the case.

FBI Special Agent Joseph Hamski testified Tuesday that about 50 agents worked on the government's case against Dylann Roof, collecting and examining more than 500 pieces of evidence.

Hamski has been the lead agent since the night of the shootings in June 2015. He laid out a timeline of authorities' actions, including the release of a bulletin with Roof's picture and the setting up of a tip line for information on his whereabouts.

Roof faces 33 federal charges, including hate crimes and obstruction of the practice of religion. Prosecutors say they are close to wrapping up their case against him.

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2:30 p.m.

A phone company employee says someone at the home of a man accused of killing nine Bible study attendees called the church several months before the shootings.

Bonita Navarro of AT&T testified Tuesday that a 13-second call was placed in February 2015 to Emanuel AME Church from the home of Dylann Roof, who is charged in a racially motivated attack.

Other witnesses have testified Roof's GPS shows he drove by the church several times before the June 2015 shootings. Authorities also found Emanuel's name on a list of black churches in Roof's car.

Prosecutors introduced photographs taken during a search of Roof's home, where they found a wooden board used for target practice. Prosecutors also showed in court several photographs of Roof wearing a white hood over his face.

Officers have testified they found a white pillowcase that had been cut into a triangular, hood-like shape at Roof's home.

Roof faces 33 federal charges. Prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty.

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Noon

A sheriff's deputy says the mother of a South Carolina man accused of killing nine people during a Bible study collapsed when she learned why authorities were at her home.

Cpl. Justin Britt of the Richland County Sheriff's Department testified Tuesday that Dylann Roof's mother collapsed during questioning from authorities the day after the shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

Britt is part of a taskforce that seeks fugitives. He said state agents called him because the man they suspected of carrying out the June 2015 attack had ties to the Columbia area.

Britt also says Roof's mother told him he needed to see something on a digital camera in her son's room. Britt says he scrolled through images on the camera, including Roof with a Confederate flag.

Roof's attorneys say their client's mother suffered a heart attack last week as prosecutors opened their case. No update on her condition has been provided.

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11:30 a.m.

A judge has explained in writing why he denied a request for a mistrial from a man accused of slaying nine people during a Bible study at a South Carolina church.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel wrote in an order filed Tuesday that attorneys for Dylann Roof didn't make a timely objection to powerful testimony from Felicia Sanders, one of the survivors of the June 2015 shootings at Emanuel AME Church.

Sanders testified last week Roof is "evil" and belonged in hell. A day after her testimony, Roof's defense team said testimony characterizing possible penalties for their client shouldn't be allowed, but Gergel disagreed.

Roof faces a possible death sentence if he's convicted. Another death penalty trial in state court is planned for next year.

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11 a.m.

An expert says a GPS device found in the car of the man charged with killing nine people at a South Carolina church shows the path he took the day of the shootings.

Jay Dee Krull works at Garmin, where he has helped design GPS devices. He testified Tuesday that timestamps from a Garmin found in Dylann Roof's car show he got to the church before the shootings and left more than an hour later.

Law enforcement agents testified Monday they found a GPS in Roof's car when he was arrested the day after the shootings. Data from other days show Roof drove by the church in the months leading up to the shootings.

Roof faces a possible death sentence if he's convicted in the June 2015 shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Another death penalty trial in state court is planned for next year.

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10:15 a.m.

Attorneys for a man accused in the shooting deaths of nine black people during Bible study at a South Carolina church say they do plan to present witnesses after all.

Defense attorney David Bruck said in court Tuesday he does plan to call some witnesses to testify on behalf of Dylann Roof. Bruck had previously said he might not put up much of a case during the first phase of Roof's trial. He instead indicated he would focus more on the part of the trial where jurors will decide between the death penalty and life in prison if Roof is convicted.

Prosecutors say they plan to finish their case this week. Roof faces 33 federal charges including hate crimes and obstruction of the practice of religion. Jurors began hearing the case against him last week.

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9:20 a.m.

A judge has denied a man's request to introduce evidence about his state of mind during his trial for the shooting deaths of nine black people during Bible study at a South Carolina church.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled late Monday that attorneys for Dylann Roof couldn't present that evidence during the guilt phase of his trial.

Roof's attorneys had wanted to put up evidence related to their client's mental health. Gergel says he's already ruled that kind of evidence is more appropriate for the penalty phase of Roof's trial, where jurors would decide if he's sentenced to life in prison or the death penalty if convicted.

Roof faces 33 federal charges including hate crimes and obstruction of the practice of religion. Jurors began hearing the case against him last week.

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3:25 a.m.

Prosecutors could soon wrap up their case against the man accused of slaying nine black people during a Bible study at a South Carolina church.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson says he has about a dozen more witnesses to call in the prosecution of Dylann Roof.

Roof faces 33 federal charges including hate crimes in the June 2015 shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. His attorneys say Roof would be willing to plead guilty if prosecutors dropped their pursuit of the death penalty.

On Monday, agents testified they found a list of other local black churches in Roof's car.

Prosecutors say they plan to call more law enforcement officers to testify, along with experts on cellphone evidence. Richardson says the last witness he'll call is shooting survivor Polly Sheppard.

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Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP . Read more of her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/meg-kinnard/