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South Carolina church gunman objects to tearful testimony

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Convicted murderer Dylann Roof said on Thursday tearful testimony by family members of those slain in the South Carolina church massacre was excessive and would prejudice jurors who will decide whether he should be sentenced to death.

The 22-year-old white supremacist, found guilty last month of killing nine black people at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015, said in written motions it was unfair for federal prosecutors to pile on given he does not plan to present any mitigating evidence.

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Roof is serving as his own lawyer during the penalty phase of his capital trial.

Roof objected to prosecutors’ initial plans to call 38 survivors and friends to detail the effects of the murders because that was the same number of witnesses who testified against Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh after he was convicted of killing 168 people.

“If I don’t present any mitigation evidence, the victim-impact evidence will take over the whole sentencing trial and guarantee that I get the death penalty,” Roof said in one of several motions decrying prosecutors’ tactics.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel urged prosecutors to pare down their witness list as jurors heard from victims’ loved ones for a second day.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said prosecutors were making adjustments but noted the large number of victims resulted from Roof’s choices.

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Nine family and friends remembered Myra Thompson, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, DePayne Middleton Doctor and the Reverend Daniel Simmons, who attended the Bible study meeting where Roof opened fire.

Thompson’s daughter, Denise Quarles, said she was angry Roof killed her in their beloved church.

“It pisses me off, but I won’t let what happened in that church stop me from being there,” Quarles told jurors.

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Roof offered no defense or apology for his crimes during his brief opening statement on Wednesday, instead insisting to jurors he is not mentally ill.

He has asked no questions of the prosecution witnesses and has not objected in court to any testimony.

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Prominent capital defense lawyer David Bruck, who represented Roof during the guilt phase of the trial and now serves as his standby counsel, said the defendant’s actions proved he was incapable of mounting a proper defense.

“This man cannot protect his own rights,” Bruck argued. “He cannot do it.”

Gergel refused to let Bruck make objections on Roof’s behalf.

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Roof’s trial on state murder charges, set for Jan. 17, was delayed indefinitely on Thursday.

(Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Leslie Adler and Matthew Lewis)


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These 7 details from the damning Sharpiegate report show it was a dark omen of Trump’s destructive potential

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While it was dismissed by some as an overhyped media obsession, the presidential scandal that has come to be known as "Sharpiegate" was, in fact, an early warning sign of the truly catastrophic potential of Donald Trump.

The story arose out of Hurricane Dorian, which began its deliberate march up toward the East Coast of the United States in late August and early September of 2019. It ravaged the Bahamas, and officials feared the damage it could inflict stateside. But then came a Trump tweet on Sept. 1, and later comments to reporters, in which he warned that Alabama was in the storm's path. He said it was among the states "most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated."

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Florida governor finally releases the true numbers of people hospitalized with coronavirus

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finally caved in to pressure to release the actual numbers of coronavirus cases in the state's hospitals.

Until Friday, DeSantis had refused to reveal the true numbers, leaving many in the state unaware of just how bad the cases were. According to the Orlando Sentinel, a whopping 7,000 Floridians are in hospitals hoping they survive the virus.

"The data, which for the first time breaks down the number of people in the hospital with coronavirus, was promised by the state two weeks ago," the report explained.

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MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace asks why Bill Barr is trying to ‘erase Robert Mueller’s investigation’ before November

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MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace returned to television Friday night to address what she called outright corruption in the Trump White House after another example of the president trying to escape the consequences of the law.

Wallace began by calling Attorney General William Barr nothing more than Trump's "bouncer."

"He has been intellectually overestimated from day one. He is not a mastermind of anything," said Wallace. "He is Donald Trump's body man."

She cited "well-sourced spin" coming from the White House Friday evening, because there were people that she said were "enlisted" with trying to talk Trump out of commuting Roger Stone's sentence. She anticipated that Barr and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone may huff and puff about the act, but that they won't quit over it. "And we should remember their names forever. They are all accomplices in the greatest corruption of one of the most sacred powers."

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