Thursday, May 11, 2017

How Dylann Roof’s commitment to racist ideals doomed him to execution


Posted by Dustin Waters on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 5:00 PM

Dylann Roof arrives in state court on April 10, 2017, before pleading guilty to murder - GRACE BEAHM/POST AND COURIER
  • Grace Beahm/Post and Courier
  • Dylann Roof arrives in state court on April 10, 2017, before pleading guilty to murder
As more court documents outlining the mental state of Dylann Roof are unsealed, more facets of his character come to light — as do the bigoted beliefs that he felt justified the murder of nine black parishioners inside Emanuel AME Church.

In the days leading up to Roof’s federal trial, he grew increasingly suspicious of his attorneys’ intentions. Fearing that a mental health defense would undermine the hate crime he had carried out in the name of white nationalism, Roof reached out to the very prosecutors tasked with convincing a jury that he should be sentenced to death. Newly unsealed court documents show not only the results of Roof’s mental evaluation leading up to his sentencing, but also provide a closer look at the strained relationship he shared with those attempting to save his life.

While deemed competent to stand trial by a clinical psychiatrist on multiple occasions, an examiner notes the lengths that Roof was willing to go to protect the reputation that he had created for himself, even as his own attorneys attempted to present his idiosyncrasies as signs of mental illness.

“They think he should primarily fight for his life and that be his No. 1 priority, and he disagrees,” wrote Dr. James Ballenger during a three-hour meeting with Roof on Dec. 31, 2016. “He said that he has only two options (death and life in prison), and they are both 'equally bad.' That is why preserving his reputation is the most important issue for him, not whether he receives the death penalty or life in prison.”

When asked about an alleged preoccupation with his clothes, Roof pointed out that he was at the center of a high-profile murder trial and asked, “Is it so strange for me to want to look good with dozens of reporters sitting just behind him?”

Admittedly prone to extreme bouts of self-pity, Roof told the psychiatrist that he “can’t win” when it comes to his courtroom demeanor. Throughout the trial, Roof kept his eyes glued to his lap, looking up only when photographs of his bedroom back home were shown.

“He stated that he feels it is not right for him to look at the victims because ‘I killed their son,’ etc. but if he looks down he is also criticized for that,” the examiner wrote.

When asked if he was worried about facing the families of his victims and survivors of his attack in court, Roof said that although he “doesn’t care about them,” he doesn’t want to upset them either. Ultimately, Roof concluded that he didn’t think it would be difficult to listen to witnesses testify about the lives he had cut short, mainly because he “did not identify with them. He didn’t care.”

Dylann Roof maintained an icy demeanor in federal court even as his sentence was read - ROBERT MANISCALCO
  • Robert Maniscalco
  • Dylann Roof maintained an icy demeanor in federal court even as his sentence was read

In the end, Roof was allowed to represent himself during the final phase of his trial, although he offered almost nothing in the way of a defense. His attorneys sidelined and unable to present an argument that Roof may be autistic, only now have aspects of the case that would have been presented begun to surface.

Meeting with U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel last November, lead defense attorney David Bruck was asked about Roof’s alleged delusions. Bruck’s answers to the judge offer a few possible explanations for Roof’s more questionable behavior.

“Mr. Roof has a set of beliefs that he — that stemmed from material that he saw on racist sites on the internet, which boiled down to their essence are that black people are engaged in a violent assault and war to the death against white people, that this is evidenced by black-on-white violent crime,” Bruck told the judge. “And that the reason we don’t all know about this is that there is a conspiracy to suppress the news of this black-on-white crime. It extends through all U.S. news media except for a handful of racist and white nationalist websites.”

According to Bruck, it is this belief in a far-reaching conspiracy to conceal a war against white people that led Roof to warn one of his attorneys that she should “be very afraid because black people are going to burn tires around her neck, as used to happen in South Africa in times of unrest. And he cannot bring himself to [understand] why she is not as afraid of this as he is.”

Bruck told the court that Roof suggested presenting his “racist myths” to the jury — talking to them about black-on-white crime and his imaginary war — would be enough to prove his case. As with most of Roof’s arguments and concerns, the focus was always turned inward.

“He has had a long-standing somatic delusion that his face is malformed and his forehead is unsightly. This is the reason for the bowled haircut. He is afraid that anyone will see his forehead,” Bruck said.

It was this haircut that led to Roof being identified by a florist in Shelby, N.C., the day after the shooting at Mother Emanuel. According to Bruck, it was a fear of exposing his forehead that caused Roof to refuse to press charges after he was attacked in jail. Concerned that photographs of his injuries would be released, Roof refused to cooperate in any form of investigation.

But it was the psychiatrist who examined Roof that offered the final say in his competency to stand trial, and eventually, be sentenced to death for his crimes. After multiple evaluations, Dr. Ballenger continued to return to the same decision.

As Ballenger wrote on Roof, “It appears that all of his decisions in the trial are dominated and driven by his primary racial prejudice and wish to preserve that as the sole rationale for his crimes and to protect his long-term image and reputation as someone who has no mental illness.”

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Aziz Ansari's Master of None season 2 lands on Netflix Friday

Clear Your Queue

Posted by Sam Spence on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 2:34 PM

'Master of None' returns with season two on May 11 - NETFLIX
  • Netflix
  • 'Master of None' returns with season two on May 11
Season two of S.C. native Aziz Ansari's Netflix series Master of None debuts on Netflix tomorrow. That's 10 fresh 30-minute episodes ready for your weekend.

Since we last left Ansari, the show he writes with Alan Yang has won an Emmy for comedy writing as well as a Peabody Award. He also hosted Saturday Night Live the day after President Donald Trump was inaugurated into office. Remember the La La Land interrogation?

Since we last left Dev, the character Ansari plays in the show, [Spoiler Alert] he and his girlfriend Rachel decided to part ways after some real talk about the direction of their relationship. Spurred partly by Rachel's sudden decision to move to Tokyo, Dev packs a bag and jets off to Italy to learn how to make pasta. The trailer for season two shows Dev wooing a series of women and gallivanting across Italy with his best bro Arnold. It appears Dev ends up back in his Manhattan loft at one point though, so who knows what hijinks are to come.

Aziz again worked with his brother Aniz to write one episode, as he did in season one, and his parents reappear playing themselves in a few episodes. Also appearing, according to the trailer and IMDB: John Legend, Claire Danes, Danielle Brooks (Taystee from OITNB), H. Jon Benjamin (Archer, Bob's Burgers), Father John Misty, Busta Rhymes, and more.

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The Agenda: Gas tax increase passed into law; Biggest ship headed to Chs; Gowdy among candidates for FBI?

Chs. senator inserts last-minute amendment to FOIA reform

Posted by Sam Spence on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 11:55 AM

The largest ship to ever sail into port in this area of the country is currently docked in Savannah after passing through Virginia. It will pull into Charleston Harbor on Saturday. Source: Facebook, AJC

The S.C. House and Senate both voted to override Gov. Henry McMaster's veto yesterday, passing into law the first gas tax increase in decades. The law will go into effect in July. Source: P&C

The Honorable George "Buck" James Jr. was installed Tuesday as the newest associate justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. Source: Sumter

Congressman Trey Gowdy, a former Upstate prosecutor, is reportedly one of six candidates that President Donald Trump is considering to become FBI director. Others include N.J. Gov. Chris Christie and former NYC police commissioner Ray Kelly. Source: USA Today

After FBI Director James Comey's abrupt firing, U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott have pushed aside calls for an independent investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Source: McClatchy

A late amendment from Charleston-area state Sen. Margie Bright-Matthews toned down a FOIA reform bill that unanimously passed through the state House, removing a provision creating a FOIA office that would have sent disputes to state administrative court. The measure was designed to make it easier for citizens to challenge public agencies to produce public records, but Bright-Matthews said it would cost local governments too much money. Source: P&C

Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin, in the P&C: "Lindsey Graham could be Trump’s biggest threat in Senate"

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Human remains discovered in marsh behind The Citadel

Severed foot spurs marine search

Posted by Dustin Waters on Wed, May 10, 2017 at 3:43 PM

  • Charleston Police Department
Charleston police have confirmed that skeletal human remains were found in the marsh area behind The Citadel campus just before noon on Wednesday.

According to a the Charleston Police Department, Charleston County sheriff’s deputies and Charleston Police Harbor Patrol were searching the water Wednesday morning in reference to the discovery of a human foot found at the Charleston City Marina on May 1. After one hour of searching, officers uncovered skeletal remains, which were removed by members of the County Coroner’s Office. It has not yet been confirmed if the discovered foot and human remains are linked.

Last week, Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten said that the human foot discovered in a size-nine men’s sneaker was removed from the water and tossed on the dock at the City Marina. After approximately six days, a woman reported the shoe to marina staff. Wooten said that little could be determined about the person to whom the foot belonged, but police were checking all missing persons reports and reports of boat accidents in search of a match.

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S.C. General Assembly overrides governor’s veto on gas-tax increase

Jack of all trades, McMaster of none

Posted by Dustin Waters on Wed, May 10, 2017 at 2:48 PM

  • Dustin Waters
Majorities in both the South Carolina House of Representatives and Senate have voted to override Gov. Henry McMaster’s veto of the roads bill that will kick off an annual 2-cent increase on the state gas tax for the next six years.

Aimed at raising the state’s 16.75-cent gas tax — second-lowest in the nation — proponents of the bill have said the increase will help raise an estimated $600 million annually to fund repairs for South Carolina’s ailing road system. Earlier this week, both the state House and Senate approved a committee report that offered a comprise on the finer points of the roads bill. As promised, Gov. McMaster vetoed the bill and offered a brief online explanation of his reasons for doing so.

“Right now over one-fourth of your gas-tax dollars are not used for road repairs. They are siphoned off for government agency overhead and programs that have nothing to do with roads. Then much of what is left is spent on the wrong roads, roads with almost no traffic, said McMaster, who suggested that a more efficient Transportation Department would save taxpayers.

In terms of the state’s least trafficked roads, the South Carolina Department of Transportation has stressed the need for increased attention to the state’s rural roadways. In February, the SCDOT called for the implementation of a rural road safety program due to the fact that between 2011-2015, rural roads were home to 6,812 crashes resulting in either a fatality or serious injury. The SCDOT has called for an additional $50 million in annual spending to target the deadliest roads in rural areas.

Currently, more than half of South Carolina roads are considered to be in poor condition, up from just 31 percent in 2008. Overall, the SCDOT has told legislators that an additional $900 million a year in spending is needed to bring the state’s roadways into good condition.

Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall applauded the General Assembly’s effort to pass the roads bill to address what she referred to as an “infrastructure crisis” in South Carolina.

“Combining last year’s ACT 275 funding with these additional funds provides sustainable resources allowing the agency to immediately begin a rural road safety program, target interstate-widening projects to replace our structurally deficient bridges, and start the long process of rebuilding our existing road system,” said Hall.

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