Supreme Court Declines Appeal of Dylann Roof, White Supremacist Mass Murderer

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The Supreme Court refused to hear the death-penalty appeal of an avowed white supremacist who gunned down nine people at a black church in South Carolina in 2015 in an effort to spark a race war.

The court announced in an unsigned order on Oct. 11 that it would not take the case of Dylann Storm Roof, a self-described white nationalist and the first individual in the United States ever to be sentenced to death for a federal hate crime.

No justices dissented from the order.

The Biden administration had urged the court not to hear the case.

Roof, now 28, dismissed his lawyers and represented himself during the sentencing portion of his trial.

The attorneys wanted to argue that Roof was mentally ill but Roof resisted saying that to do so “discredits the reason why [he] did the crime.” He added he would “rather die than be labeled autistic.”

Roof told FBI agents that he was a “white nationalist” and that he carried out his shooting rampage because “black people are killing white people every day” and “rap[ing] white women.” Roof said he was attempting to agitate relations between the races in the hope of causing a race war.

The attack took place June 17, 2015, when, after posting a manifesto of his racist beliefs online, he went to Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where a Bible study session was in progress.

The parishioners welcomed Roof who sat with them for about 45 minutes. He then began firing on the church attendees with a handgun about 74 times. Seven people died at the scene and two more succumbed to their injuries soon after, according to the government’s brief.

Roof was indicted by a federal grand jury for racially motivated hate crimes resulting in death, along with various other charges.

The government pursued the death penalty and rejected Roof’s offer to plead guilty in exchange for life imprisonment.

During a competency evaluation, Roof told a court-appointed examiner that it was his goal to stay alive as long as possible by creating appellate issues at trial that would help to “prolong” his life.

But he was angered when his attorneys told him they planned to call an autism expert to the witness stand during the trial’s penalty phase.

Roof told the prosecutors in a letter “what my lawyers are planning to say in my defense is a lie and will be said without my consent or permission.”

U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argued in a brief filed with the court on Aug. 31, that the high court should refuse to entertain Roof’s petition.

“Although a criminal defendant who chooses to be represented by counsel retains ‘the ultimate authority to make certain fundamental decisions regarding the case’—namely, whether to plead guilty or otherwise concede guilt, waive a jury trial, testify in his own behalf, or appeal—he does not have a more general right to supersede counsel’s judgment on how to present a defense,” the document stated.

Matthew Vadum


Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist and a recognized expert in left-wing activism.

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