Dylann Roof offered no apology for the June 2015 murders of nine black people at a historically black South Carolina church in a jailhouse manifesto read during his sentencing trial on Wednesday.
“I would like to make it crystal clear I do not regret what I did,” Roof wrote in the jailhouse journal seized by authorities in 2015, according to the New York Times. “I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.”
In December, a jury of three black people and nine white people found Roof guilty of hate crimes, religious obstruction and firearms violations in the June 2015 attack. Roof had pleaded not guilty.
Roof sat alongside his victims for about an hour inside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston before opening fire.
“In that moment, a man of immense hatred walked that room shooting person after person after person, stopping only so he could reload more magazines and kill more people,” assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams told the jury in December, according to the Post and Courier.
“It was an act of tremendous cowardice, shooting people as they have their eyes closed in prayer, shooting them on the ground.”
The victims were: Tywanza Sanders, 26; Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Ethel Lance, 70; Myra Thompson, 59 and Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74.
Prosecutors said Roof planned the massacre carefully, scouting the church nearly two years before the attack and even traveling six times from his home 90 minutes away in Eastover.
He has admitted that hoped to start a race war, according to the New York Times.
Rejected Mental Health Defense
Roof has represented himself in trial and at sentencing. Although Judge Gergel called the move “strategically unwise,” Roof had a legal right to serve as his own lawyer after being found competent to stand trial, according to the New York Times.
He rejected a defense based on his mental health — which might have been his best defense to avoid the death penalty, according to the Times.
“I want state that I am morally opposed to psychology,” Roof wrote in a journal found in his car. “It is a Jewish Invention, and does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they don’t.”
Earlier this month, Roof wrote to Judge Gergel that he would “not be calling mental health experts or presenting mental health evidence.”
The 22-year-old did not call any witnesses or present any evidence during the sentencing phase of the trial, WLTX reports.
Prior to the sentencing, Judge Gergel issued an order banning Roof from approaching the jury, the witness stand or the bench during his remarks, CNN reports.
As the beginning of the sentencing phase on Wednesday, Roof declared, “There’s nothing wrong with me psychologically,” according to CNN.
Three people who sat in the section of the court room reserved for the family of the victims walked out during Roof’s opening statement.