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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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Nicolle Wallace tells Colbert why she cursed at Fox News host Laura Ingraham — and that she left the GOP

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MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace appeared on Stephen Colbert's "Late Show" Wednesday after spending hours analyzing the impeachment hearings that began that morning.

One of the first things Colbert asked about was the recent smackdown from Wallace about Fox News host Laura Ingraham and her guests going after Col. Alexander Vindman. Ingraham proposed that because Vindman was born in Ukraine that he was somehow a traitor to the United States for coming forward about President Donald Trump's admitted crimes.

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‘It takes a small mind to want to out a whistleblower’: Rachel Maddow blasts Trump and GOP

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In an analysis of the first day of impeachment, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow explained to late-night comedian Jimmy Fallon why the impeachment hearings were a lot more rational than she anticipated.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) switched committees just to appear and ask questions and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) humiliated himself, but aside from that, Maddow said she was surprised there were reasonable questions, and everyone remained calm.

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Seth Meyers mocks Devin Nunes saying Dems wanted to find nude photos of Trump: ‘Literally no one wants that’

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"Late Night" host Seth Meyers ridiculed Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) for his absurd line of questioning that accused Democrats of the impeachment is the same as the Russia scandal.

Nunes said that Democrats want the world to forget about their efforts to obtain nude photos of Trump, something Meyers countered with actual sense.

"Hey man, I guarantee you no one wants nude pictures of Donald Trump," Meyers said. "I'm not crazy about clothed pictures of Donald Trump. Also, I have to believe that if there were nude pictures of Donald Trump, the first person to show them would be Donald Trump. He'd probably hold a press conference with a giant poster board."

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