FBI: Roof displaying racist symbols even during trial
Posted January 6
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Dylann Roof is as entrenched in his white supremacist beliefs as ever, even wearing shoes this week with racist symbols drawn on them, an FBI agent testified Friday.
Roof faces life in prison or execution for killing nine black church members in a racially motivated attack in 2015. He is representing himself during the sentencing phase of his trial, but so far he has not asked jurors to spare his life or cross-examined any witnesses put forth by prosecutors.
FBI agent Joseph Hamski said that Roof wore the shoes as recently as Monday. When authorities searched Roof's cell in August 2015 as part of a suicide watch, they also found a pair of white slip-on sneakers with a cross associated with white supremacy drawn on them.
Hamski testified about Roof's conversations online before the shootings, where, as user "LilAryan," he interacted with others on a white supremacist website. The FBI agent read several passages from a journal found in Roof's cell. In it, Roof wrote at length about his thoughts on the superiority of the white race and he drew a variety of symbols associated with white supremacy, similar to what was on his shoes.
The same jury that last month convicted Roof of 33 federal charges, including hate crimes and obstruction of justice, will soon begin deliberating his fate for the slayings at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church.
Prosecutors have said they plan to wrap up their case on Monday, and the judge said he expects jurors could begin discussions Tuesday.
Roof has said he doesn't plan on calling any witnesses. He addressed jurors directly during his opening statement, insisting he wasn't mentally ill, but he did not ask them to spare his life.
Much of prosecutors' case has focused on testimony from friends and family of the victims, and one of the three survivors of the shooting. Roof objected to the avalanche of emotional testimony, asking for limits on it or more frequent breaks. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel has asked prosecutors to pare down their witness lists, saying he doesn't wish to hamper their case but that he'd like to keep the trial moving along.
On Friday, prosecutors called more relatives of victims of the shooting.
Sharon Risher, church sexton Ethel Lance's oldest daughter, said her mother had her at age 14 and endured hardship and struggle, raising a biracial child in the 1950s and 1960s.
"I know that she had to deal with a lot of guilt and shame, but that didn't stop her because her mission then in life was to make sure that she was able to take care of me," Risher said.
Walter Jackson Sr., the self-proclaimed "favorite grandson" of 87-year-old Susie Jackson, said going to Sunday services with his grandmother was an "all-day thing," but he wouldn't have been anywhere else.
"I had a cool grandmother," he said. "She always encouraged me to be myself."
Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP . Read more of her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/meg-kinnard/ .