Dylann Roof's attorneys say he 'would rather die than be labeled mentally ill'
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - A federal judge unsealed a slew of records Tuesday connected to the trial of Emanuel AME gunman, Dylann Roof.
Roof's decision to represent himself was a major point of contention during the trial, and the unsealed records provide more insight into the debate surrounding Roof’s mental competency as he fought to be able to do that.
Records paint a picture of a frustrated defense team and an uncooperative client, detailing the level of distrust between Roof and those trying to spare his life.
Right before the trial, Roof penned a letter to prosecutors condemning his own defense team. In the letter he said, "this is the sneakiest group of people I have ever met, and words can’t express how slick they are in their lies.”
Additionally, he said they used scare tactics, threats, manipulation, and lies to further their own agenda, one not in line with his.
According to his attorneys, the jailhouse letter raised serious concerns about his competence to stand trial. In a motion filed prior to jury selection, Roof's attorneys said "we are now faced with a client who would rather die than be labeled mentally ill or neuro-developmentally impaired, and who would rather communicate and ally himself with those who propose to execute him than with us.”
Roof’s mental state wasn't challenged solely from the letter. In a six-page outline, his attorneys provide examples of irrational and delusional ideas, beliefs they said made Roof unable to respond to basic needs of his defense. They said Roof believed he'd be rescued from prison by white nationalists and one day made Governor of South Carolina.
Judge Richard Gergel granted a second mental examination, which concluded Roof was competent enough to stand trial. He eventually fired his attorneys and represented himself in court, where he was ultimately convicted and sentenced to death.
Throughout the trial, Roof objected to the release of any materials regarding his mental state. In another unsealed document, it shows Judge Gergel acknowledged Roof's objection, but ruled it is one of public interest, supporting evidence he was competent enough to stand trial and face capital punishment.