The white nationalist on federal death row for the racist mass shooting against nine Black church members in Charleston, SC, is pleading to have his death sentence overturned.
Lawyers for Dylann Roof appeared in court on Tuesday where they claimed the convicted murderer was unable to stand trial due to being “disconnected from reality,” CNN reported. Making their arguments before a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, VA, they requested that an appellate court vacate Roof’s 33 convictions and death sentence, or remand his case to court for a “proper competency evaluation,” the Associated Press reported.
“The federal trial that resulted in his death-sentence departed so far from the standard required when the government seeks the ultimate price that it cannot be affirmed,” the lawyers wrote in regards to Roof representing himself during his trial.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel held two hearings where it was determined that Roof could act as his own attorney.
But his appellate team claimed that “every defense expert agreed Roof suffered a delusional belief he would be rescued by the victors of a race-war, which prevented him from understanding the threat of execution was real.”
“When Dylann Roof represented himself at his capital trial, he was a 22-year-old, ninth-grade dropout diagnosed with schizophrenia-spectrum disorder, autism, anxiety, and depression, who believed his sentence didn’t matter because white nationalists would free him from prison after an impending race war,” a 321-page motion filed last year read.
Prosecutors responded to the appellate team by presenting evidence of Roof’s pride in the massacre through writings from his jailhouse journal.
“I would like to make it crystal clear. I do not regret what I did,” Roof wrote. “I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.”
Robin-Vergeer’s Justice Department colleague, Ann O’Connell Adams, argued that Roof was competent to stand trial and pointed to evidence of Roof’s high IQ, saying he “didn’t have a shred of doubt” that he faced the risk of death in the case.