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Dylann Roof to address jurors from podium during death penalty trial

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Jurors who found white supremacist Dylann Roof guilty of federal crimes tied to the killings of nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church will hear directly from him on Wednesday as the sentencing phase of his death penalty trial begins.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled on Monday that Roof, 22, was mentally fit to stand trial and act as his own lawyer as prosecutors make the case that he should be executed for the 2015 massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

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But Gergel restricted Roof’s movements in the courtroom, ordering him to speak to jurors from behind a podium when he delivers his opening statement and barring him from approaching the jury, witnesses or the judge during the proceedings.

Roof confessed to gunning down nine people at a church Bible study session.

Jurors deliberated a little less than two hours last month before finding him guilty on all 33 federal counts of hate crimes, obstruction of religion and firearms charges against him.

Roof’s strategy for the sentencing phase is unclear.

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He told the court he would give an opening statement but call no witnesses and offer no evidence, a revelation that prompted the lawyers who represented him during the guilt phase to question his competency.

Roof sought to represent himself in order to keep the jury from hearing mental health evidence about him, defense counsel David Bruck said in court documents. Such evidence is meant to sway a jury toward a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole instead of the death penalty.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said the government would present new evidence and call up to 38 family members of Emanuel victims to the witness stand.

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Roof’s conviction set him up to be the first person to face back-to-back federal and state death sentences since the United States reinstated the death penalty at the national level in 1988.

Jury selection for his state trial on murder charges is expected to start later this month.

(Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Matthew Lewis)

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Man stabbed to death at California university — he was also targeted with ‘incendiary device’

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Police are searching for a murder suspect after a fatal stabbing on the first day of school at a California university.

"A retired Cal State Fullerton administrator was stabbed to death Monday morning on the first day of the university’s academic year, and authorities later found an explosive device nearby," the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

"Fullerton police responded to reports of an assault with a deadly weapon at 8:30 a.m. in the parking lot near the College Park building. Police found the victim, a man in his late 50s, inside a silver Infiniti, bleeding from his head with multiple stab wounds to his body. Police found an 'incendiary device' near the vehicle that showed the suspect targeted the victim," the newspaper reported.

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Trump is panicking because ‘his reality show sees cancellation on the horizon’: Columnist

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On Monday, Eugene Robinson wrote a Washington Post op-ed suggesting President Donald Trump is self-destructing because "his reality show sees cancellation on the horizon."

"Evidence suggests that Trump is melting down. Again. And for good reason," wrote Robinson. "Fears of a global recession, greatly exacerbated by Trump's erratic and self-destructive trade policies, have sent financial markets tumbling. A sharp downturn would close off one of the principal lines of attack the president was hoping to use against his Democratic opponent. He tried it out at a rally in New Hampshire last week: 'You have no choice but to vote for me,' he told the crowd, 'because your 401(k)'s down the tubes, everything's gonna be down the tubes' if he loses. 'So whether you love me or hate me, you gotta vote for me.'"

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‘Wackadoodle’ Trump is ‘seriously worried about losing’: CNN legal analyst

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On Monday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin discussed President Donald Trump's bizarre claim that Google "manipulated" millions of votes for Hillary Clinton.

"And there is another conspiracy theory, Jeffrey, that he's on to," said anchor Brianna Keilar. "He took to Twitter today to accuse Google of manipulating votes. He said 'Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election! This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought!"

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