The Latest: Roof mused about adoption, Hitler's canonization

AP News
Posted: Jan 05, 2017 5:12 PM
The Latest: Roof mused about adoption, Hitler's canonization

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on the federal sentencing trial of convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof (all times local):

5:15 p.m.

As he sat in jail after his arrest, Dylann Roof mused about adopting a white child someday and sought to explain his thoughts on other races.

Lauren Knapp of the Charleston County Sheriff's Office read extensively Thursday from a journal found in Roof's cell.

In the handwritten pages, seized when Roof's cell was searched six weeks after his arrest, Roof was unapologetic for his crimes and said he only felt sorry for "innocent white children forced to live in this sick country."

Roof was convicted last month in the killing of nine black church members in Charleston.

Roof said in the journal that he only felt sorry for himself in that he had to give up his freedom to get something done to give whites more power.

Roof wrote that he felt he would probably eventually be pardoned if he were sentenced to life in prison and believed Adolf Hitler would eventually be canonized as a saint.

A federal jury is hearing testimony this week as to whether Roof should get life or the death penalty for the June 2015 slayings at Emanuel AME Church.


4:45 p.m.

An intelligence officer at the jail where Dylann Roof has been housed since his arrest says a concerning letter led to a search of Roof's cell and placing him on suicide watch.

Lauren Knapp of the Charleston County Sheriff's Office says Roof was put on suicide watch after she intercepted a letter he'd written to his mother. The letter contained passages that seemed to portray suicide as positive.

Roof's cell was searched after the August 2015 incident. It was at that time officials found a journal in which Roof wrote about his lack of remorse for those he killed weeks earlier at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

Prosecutors talked about the journal in their opening statement for Roof's sentencing trial.


3:20 p.m.

One of the nine Charleston church members killed in a racially motivated attack is being described as a man who loved his family and would travel to be with those he loved.

Dan Simmons' namesake son, Dan Jr., testified Thursday about his father and his love for cars.

Known as "Dapper Dan" to some for his flashy attire, Simmons was among the first black bus drivers hired by Greyhound. The son says his father lived his life to the fullest and enjoyed spreading the word of God to his congregations and others ministers.

Simmons was the 12th witness to testify this week at the sentencing trial of Dylann Roof, who was convicted in the killings.


2:40 p.m.

Dylann Roof's trial in a South Carolina court on nine counts of murder for the killings of black worshippers at a Charleston church has been delayed.

Jury selection in the state death penalty trial was supposed to begin Jan. 17. But Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson's order Thursday said the delay is needed because the Roof's federal death penalty trial on hate crime charges is still going on.

Nicholson's order did not give a new date for the trial to start.

State prosecutor Scarlett Wilson has consistently said she wanted to prosecute Roof first, before the federal government.

Roof is charged with murder in state court for the 2015 killings at Emanuel AME in Charleston.


This item has been corrected to note that state prosecutors wanted their case against Roof to go first.


2:30 p.m.

The judge overseeing Dylann Roof's sentencing says he's frustrated by a motion to limit emotional victim testimony.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said Thursday it's to be expected that witnesses will be upset talking about the deaths of their loved ones.

Gergel was reacting to a motion filed during a lunch break. He said the motion mischaracterizes what's going on in Roof's sentencing this week by exaggerating courtroom reaction to emotional testimony.

Gergel said it's natural to be moved by such testimony.

Roof made no objection to the judge's denial of the motion, which was likely the idea of his standby counsel.

The defense attorneys who represented Roof during the guilt phase of his trial have several times told the judge they still don't feel Roof is capable of representing himself, despite Gergel's repeated rulings to the contrary.

Roof, who has admitted his involvement in the June 2015 slayings, has said he planned to call no witnesses or put up a case to try to save his life. Jurors will ultimately sentence him to the death penalty or life in prison.


1:05 p.m.

The sister of a woman slain at a Charleston church in 2015 says she always put her faith first.

Bethane Middleton says she called her sister DePayne Middleton-Doctor "a borrowed angel" who never asked God for much, yet was provided plenty.

Middleton says her sister worked hard to care for her four children and find ways to get them what they needed.

Middleton's testimony came on the second day of sentencing for Dylann Roof. The same jury that convicted him last month will decide whether he should be executed or face life in prison.


11:55 a.m.

A friend of a woman who was killed in the Charleston church massacre is describing her as a devoted, energetic woman who loved to help others.

Rita Whidbee says she and Sharonda Coleman-Singleton ran track together in college and were inseparable thereafter. Whidbee described her friend as a dedicated woman of faith who embraced the ministry and was a natural in teaching God's word to others.

Coleman-Singleton's daughter, Cam'Ryne Singleton, told jurors her mother would pray over her children before they went to sleep and expressed faith in everything she did.

So far, prosecutors have called seven witnesses to talk about the nine people killed in the June 2015 attack during a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church. Jurors are considering if convicted shooter Dylann Roof should get the death penalty or life in prison.


11 a.m.

Dylann Roof's former defense attorney has implored a judge to allow him to represent the convicted church shooter during sentencing.

Attorney David Bruck again said Thursday he doesn't think Roof is capable of being his own attorney, in part because he isn't objecting to testimony from family members of the nine people who were killed in 2015. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel denied Bruck's request, saying he's certain Roof is competent and is free to object whenever he sees fit.

Prosecutors also say they're paring down the number of witnesses they plan to call. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said he is trying to be judicious in how many relatives he calls for the victims of the slaughter at Emanuel AME Church.

Roof has objected to the total number of 38 witnesses, and the judge has agreed. The judge says some of the testimony can be repetitive.


10:30 a.m.

The daughter of a woman slain in the June 2015 attack at Emanuel AME Church says she doesn't let the shooting stop her from attending the place of worship she loves.

Denise Quarles' voice broke as she testified Thursday about how her mother, Myra Thompson, died welcoming a stranger into Bible study.

Quarles said she last saw her mother a month before the shootings and that Thompson seemed to have a premonition something would happen to her, speaking about what would happen after her death and making clear her desires for her funeral.

Quarles described her mother as a tough disciplinarian but also as a good friend.

Quarles was the first witnessed called Thursday by prosecutors in the sentencing trial of convicted church shooter Dylann Roof. The 22-year-old defendant is representing himself in this phase of trial. Jurors will consider whether to sentence him to death or life in prison.


9:45 a.m.

Jurors have returned for a second day of testimony in the sentencing trial of convicted church shooter Dylann Roof.

Emotions likely will be high Thursday as prosecutors call more relatives of people killed in the June 2015 attack on Emanuel AME Church. The first day was dominated by powerful testimony from the widow of pastor and state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, who told jurors of her husband's strength and loving parenting.

Jennifer Pinckney also described hiding under a desk in the church with her daughter as the shooting went on steps away.

Prosecutors have said they plan as many as 38 witnesses, although U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel has said several times he thought that number could possibly be pared down or testimony could otherwise be consolidated.

Roof had asked that prosecutors be limited in the number of witnesses they could introduce, but that request was rejected.


3:20 a.m.

Prosecutors have called four witnesses at Dylann Roof's sentencing and may call dozens more to try to convince jurors the convicted church killer should be sentenced to death.

The most gut-wrenching testimony so far came from Jennifer Pinckney, whose husband, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, was one of nine black church members killed when Roof opened fire during a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Clementa Pinckney was also the pastor of the church.

A chilling 911 call Jennifer Pinckney made was played for jurors Wednesday. In it, she talks about huddling under a desk with her 6-year-old daughter.

Roof is representing himself. In brief opening remarks, he told jurors he wasn't mentally ill. He did not ask them to spare his life.