Convicted Charleston shooter and avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof gave a brief opening statement in court Wednesday morning, telling a jury that he wanted to represent himself so that his lawyers wouldn’t introduce evidence of mental illness.
“It isn’t because I have a mental illness that I don’t want you to know about,” he said, according to media reports. “It isn’t because I have a secret.”
In the statement made during the sentencing phase of his death penalty trial over the slaying of 9 black parishioners in 2015, Roof made no mention of the crime he confessed to committing, the victims he killed, nor the potential death sentence he faces.
Roof was convicted in December of 33 federal counts of hate crimes.
He told the jury on Wednesday there is nothing wrong with him psychologically, “other than the fact that I trust people that I shouldn’t.”
“If you happen to remember anything that my lawyers said … I ask you to forget it,” he said, referring to statements his attorney David Bruck gave before Roof’s conviction, in which he mused about Roof’s state of mind and rationality during the shooting.
Roof was restricted by US District Judge Richard Gergel in his courtroom movements, ordered to speak from behind a podium. He was barred from approaching the jury, witnesses, or the judge, according to Reuters. Roof has previously said he will not call witnesses nor offer evidence.
Roof has been ruled competent to stand trial and fit to serve as his own lawyer, despite efforts from his defense team to prove otherwise.
Prosecutor Nathan Williams argued in his opening statement Wednesday that several aggravating factors prove the death penalty is justified in Roof’s case, including the racially motivated nature of his crimes and the lack of remorse Roof has demonstrated.
Williams showed the jury a handwritten journal entry from six weeks after Roof was arrested, according to BuzzFeed.
“I would like to make it crystal clear that I do not regret what I did. I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed,” the note reads.
“I do feel sorry for the innocent white children forced to live in this sick country and I do feel sorry for the innocent white people that are killed daily at the hands of the lower races. I have shed a tear of self pity for myself. I feel pity that I had to do what I did in the first place. I feel pity that I had to give up my life because of a situation that should have never existed.”
The last inmate executed in South Carolina was 36-year-old Jeffrey Motts in 2011. Motts had been convicted of murdering his cellmate in 2005 while serving life sentences for two other murders.