Friday, February 3, 2017

Unsealed court documents reveal details and raise more questions in the trial of Dylann Roof

A case not quite closed

Posted by Dustin Waters on Fri, Feb 3, 2017 at 11:02 AM

click to enlarge Dylann Roof maintained an icy demeanor in court even as his sentence was read - ROBERT MANISCALCO
  • Robert Maniscalco
  • Dylann Roof maintained an icy demeanor in court even as his sentence was read
Even after a grueling murder trial and a judge’s decision to open more than 100 previously unsealed court documents related to the federal case against Dylann Roof, there remains much that is unknown about the 22-year-old white supremacist and his plans leading up to the murders at Emanuel AME Church.

For instance, why among the evidence collected from Roof’s car did investigators find a handwritten note listing addresses for Sullivan’s Island Town Hall and Wando High School in Mt. Pleasant? Why after ignoring the advice of his attorneys did Roof insist on wearing his gray-and-white striped county jail jumpsuit early on in his trial — a question that was highlighted by lawyers in a recently unsealed court document.

“This preference does not have anything to do with his political views, but it is strong and seemingly fixed,” attorneys for the defense wrote in late September. “We will continue to discuss with Mr. Roof the advantages of wearing civilian clothing in court, but it is possible that he will insist on wearing his jail clothes despite our advice.”

As was seen in the courtroom, Roof did apparently heed the advice of his legal counsel, eventually shedding his prison jumpsuit in exchange for the drab, baggy sweaters and slacks that he wore through most of the trial. But this seems to be one of the few times that Roof’s attorneys were able to reach him leading up to his death sentence.

“The defendant has made clear that he vehemently opposes the presentation on any mental health evidence. The irreconcilable differences in strategies between the defendant and standby counsel have already caused a significant disruption in the trial schedule, and both the defendant and counsel have described deep ruptures in their relationship during multiple hearings and filings in this court.”

Roof insisted on representing himself during the sentencing phase of his trial in an apparent attempt to prohibit any discussion of his mental state. Following multiple closed hearings to determine his competency, the results of Roof’s mental evaluations remained largely unknown until the most recent round of unsealed documents were released to the public.

Although Roof was deemed fit to stand trial and serve as his own attorney, a motion from the defense states that Roof’s mental evaluation revealed that he may suffer from “social anxiety disorder, mixed substance abuse disorder, a schizoid personality disorder, depression by history, and a possible autistic spectrum disorder.”

How this plays out as the court awaits a possible appeal from Roof is unknown. With more court documents waiting to be unsealed, there remains much more that could be brought to light in the trial of Dylann Roof. What is known is that his killing of nine black parishioners at Mother Emanuel was motivated by a belief in white nationalism.

This is why reports that the Trump administration is considering revamping the government’s Countering Violent Extremism program to no longer target groups such as white supremacists and focus solely on “radical Islamic extremism” is concerning to some. Because while Roof sits behind bars as he awaits execution, there undoubtedly remains others, walking the streets, who share his view of the world.

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