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Judge blocks mental health testimony for South Carolina church shooting suspect

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A federal judge said on Tuesday he would not allow defense lawyers to present evidence about Dylann Roof’s mental health to jurors weighing his guilt in the June 2015 massacre at a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Roof’s lawyers have not disputed that the avowed white supremacist shot and killed nine black parishioners during a Bible study and asked to call witnesses to testify about his state of mind and personal characteristics.

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The motion listing the witnesses was sealed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson, who said in court they included a police officer and someone with whom Roof had a business interaction, objected to the proposed testimony as “self-serving hearsay” and “justification.”

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled that such evidence must wait until the penalty phase, when prosecutors plan to seek a death sentence.

The defense is hoping jurors will spare Roof, 22, from execution. He has indicated he will represent himself during the trial’s sentencing phase.

Roof is not asserting an insanity defense and was found competent to stand trial on federal charges of hate crimes resulting in death, obstruction of religion and firearms violations, Gergel noted in a written order on Monday.

He is scheduled to stand trial in state court early next year on murder charges for the massacre.

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Tuesday marked the fifth day of testimony in the federal case in Charleston. Jurors have viewed Roof’s video confession and the racist manifesto he posted online before the shooting in which he railed against blacks and Jews and promoted his ideology of white superiority.

Prosecutors said they expect to finish their case on Wednesday with eyewitness testimony from Polly Sheppard, who was at the church but not killed because Roof said he wanted her tell what he had done.

(Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Bill Trott)

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‘You sound frightened’: Trump mocked for raging at Fox News’ ‘politically correct’ impeachment coverage

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This Tuesday morning, President Trump fired off a series of tweets slamming Fox News, his otherwise preferred network, for being too "politically correct" in its coverage of him and allowing Democrats who are "playing up the impeachment hoax" to appear on the network.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1222183788924502017

Trump went on to declare that it's the "beginning of the end for Fox," just like MSNBC and CNN "which are dying in the ratings."

The tweets brought a wave of mockery from Trump's critics on Twitter, who saw the rant as another example of the pressure of impeachment catching up with the president.

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Rick Santorum: ‘I have no problem’ with John Bolton testifying after ‘this impeachment thing’ is over

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Conservative CNN contributor Rick Santorum asserted on Tuesday that former National Security Adviser John Bolton should wait until after President Donald Trump's impeachment trial ends to reveal what he knows about the president's scheme in Ukraine.

"The only thing I would question is sort of the timing of submitting the book for review," Santorum said during an appearance on CNN. "I mean, you're doing it at a time -- knowing the history of what goes on in this White House, that leaks are prevalent -- to submit this manuscript at this time, I think was bad judgement."

"I have no problem with John Bolton writing a book," he continued. "This is someone who deeply believes in his worldview and what is best for America and I think he felt compelled to write something about the state of foreign policy in America and where our country is going."

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Franklin Graham cries ‘discrimination’ as UK venues ban him over his ‘divisive’ Anti-LGBTQ extremism

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Franklin Graham's planned tour of the UK has run in to a snag: It appears few in the UK want him there. The far right evangelical Christian leader with strong ties to President Donald Trump had announced a UK tour starting in June, but as word spread venues started canceling on him, or pulled out of negotiations. At issue: Graham's anti-LGBTQ extremism.

ACC Liverpool, a convention center adjacent to the John Lennon Peace Monument has blocked Graham, calling him "divisive" and saying he is "incompatible" with their values.

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