The lead attorney for Dylann Roof on Wednesday admitted to a jury in Charleston, S.C. that the murder case against his client was "open and shut."
During opening statements, defense attorney David I. Bruck said that Roof had caused "much harm and grief" with the murder of nine black members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
"You're probably wondering... why does there have to be a trial?" Bruck told the jury, conceding that the case was "open and shut."
Instead of arguing that his client is innocent, Bruck focused on the second phase of the trial, which will decide Roof's punishment if he is found guilty. Roof, however, has insisted on representing himself during the penalty phase. The defense team has suggested that Roof is representing himself because he does not want “to introduce expert evidence relating to a mental disease or defect or any other mental condition bearing on the issue of punishment.”
"The question isn't just did Dylann Roof commit this crime, but who is he," the attorney noted. "Our society does not invoke the death penalty... when there ways are to choose life. The law errs in the favor of life, we err in the favor of life."
Time and time again, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel sustained objections to Bruck's opening statement, reminding him to focus on the guilt phase of the trial.
"Ask yourself if this is a logical plan at all," Brock said of Roof's attack on the church. "On what planet does someone think you can advance a political agenda by attacking a church?"
"How much sense does this crime make, does this make any sense at all. And If not, what does that tell you?"
The opening statement delivered by lead prosecutor Jay Richardson focused on details of the horrific crime and Roof's "racist ideology."
"He chose that church because of the impact it would have, the manner in which it would resonate across the nation," Richardson said.
"He chose to enter the sanctuary, sitting with parishioners for half an hour, coldly considering what he was about to do," he continued. "He pulled the Glock .45 caliber pistol out and shot the church pastor, Rev. Pinckney. And shot him over and over again."
"This is going to be a long and difficult trial," Richardson warned members of the jury. "The truth here is after months of planning and preparation he chose to enter a sanctuary, Mother Emanuel... he chose to execute those innocent men and women and he chose to do so because of hatred of the color of their skin."
"His racism, his assault on a house of worship will not win in this courtroom... That kind of justice, I submit to you, will find the defendant guilty on all counts."