LIVE BLOG: Roof claims nothing wrong with him "psychologically" in opening statement

LIVE BLOG: Roof claims nothing wrong with him "psychologically" in opening statement

The 22-year-old man convicted of killing nine African-American parishioners in a racially-charged shooting in June 2015 delivered his opening statements as he begins to defends himself against the death penalty.

Dylann Roof was found guilty of 33 federal charges in December in a seven-day-long trial that saw witnesses who say they saw him gun down nine of their friends at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

The prosecution was first to give an opening statement. They will try to prove aggravating factors in this phase of the trial, which are things that seem to worsen the crimes Roof was convicted of last year.

Some of the factors prosecutors will try to prove now are that Roof incited violence, that his actions had an impact on the victims' families, that he endangered the safety of others, that what he did was racially motivated, and that he has a lack of remorse.

Prosecutors moved quickly to prove their points by submitting a note allegedly found in Roof's jail cell written six weeks after the crime.

"It was worth it," the note, supposedly written by Roof, said. "I would like to make it crystal clear. I do not regret what I did."

Roof came up next and gave a very brief opening statement.

Roof pledged to not lie during his defense of himself and that he was acting as his own attorney because he wanted to make sure no evidence against his mental health would be introduced against him.

"I trust people that I shouldn't," Roof said. "There's nothing wrong with me psychologically."

With opening statements given, the government called its first witness to the stand: Jennifer Pinckney, wife of the late Sen. Clementa Pinckney, a victim in the shooting.

Pinckney spent most of her time on the stand discussing the relationship she and her daughters had with the senator. From their first date, their nuptials, and the way they raised their children together, federal prosecutors wasted no time painting the church's reverend as the perfect man, husband, and father who was gunned down with malice.

Pinckney also discussed the day of the shooting. She was inside the church with her daughter, Malana, on the night of the slayings and recalled the sound of gunfire. She said she grabbed her daughter's arm, ran into another office, locked them inside, and hid under a desk. She told the jury she had to remain stern with her daughter because of her fear of being found by Roof.

"She never heard me be that mean," Pinckney said.

Pinckney then described the moments of uncertainty under the desk with her daughter as bullets pierced the room. Malana even asked her if her father was already dead. Pinckney also said Roof tried to enter the room they were hiding in, but he was rebuffed by the locked door.

After the gunfire ended, Pinckney managed to dial 911. Audio from that tape was played for the jury. In it, Pinckney very quietly attempts to tell the dispatcher that she could hear painful moans in the other room where Roof opened fire. Police eventually arrived and were able to make contact with Pinckney and Malana.

"It wasn't my time or my daughter's time," Pinckney said to the jury.

Pinckney then went on to tell the jury about the moments she had to tell her daughters that their father was gone.

"I basically told them that something had happened, and I said, 'Dad got hurt,'" Pinckney said. "It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do."

The hearing is expected to continue throughout the week.

Previous Stories:

Roof Trial Day Two

Roof Trial Day Six

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