Roof to get one more chance to sway jury with closing argument before deliberations

posted by Sam Tyson, WCIV - 

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — 

Dylann Roof now has one final chance to speak in his own defense before a panel of jurors retires to a private room to decide whether his actions at Emanuel AME warrant the death penalty.

So far, he has refrained from presenting evidence or cross-examining any of the government's two dozen witnesses.

After a two-hour charge conference Monday afternoon, it's not clear what Roof will say Tuesday morning, but prosecutors are concerned he will try to bring up things that were not brought up in evidence during either the guilt or penalty phase of the trial.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said he would be paying close attention to what Roof said and would quickly step in if he moved into territory that was against the court's instruction.

U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson will make the argument for the prosecution.

Roof, through standby counsel David Bruck, brought up a list of 10 things he did not want prosecutors to allow. Many of them Richardson took issue with.

The sealed document mentions the phrase "a heart of hate" as being a problem. Richardson says that's a fair assessment of Roof because through he writings the jury knows what the convicted church shooter was thinking and feeling as he planned his attack and drove to Charleston that June day.

Behind the scenes, Gergel, attorneys, and Roof will sort out what to do with the sealed evidence presenting in suppression and competency hearings.

Gergel told Roof he felt the public had a right to the information once the jury had reached its sentencing decision, but he would entertain arguments to redact or keep sealed some of the documents.

Bruck will help him with the arguments, Gergel allowed.

Before federal prosecutors rested their case on Monday, they introduced jurors to the family of Tywanza Sanders, the youngest member of the bible study to be killed by Roof.

By all accounts, Sanders was equal parts stubborn and affectionate, always making sure his opinion was known but making sure to have a kind word for everyone in his family and at church.

"Tywanza was very very determined. He was a bottle of contradictions... Anything that he wanted to try he would try, regardless if it made sense to me or anyone else," said Shirrene Goss, Sanders' sister who spent several years caring for Sanders as a baby.

He was a fearless boy never afraid to try anything, she said. His only fear growing up was flushing the toilet, Goss said, laughing.

Sanders' father Tyrone said he son was a prankster as a young boy who loved to get and make money. He had a lemonade stand and even sold air fresheners.

As Sanders got older, he and his father would take road trips together for fraternity events.

"I miss fishing with him. I miss him being on the road with me. I miss the debates we used to have. I miss yelling at him and telling him to come put the trash out. And I miss a lot about him. The last two homecomings I was saying I ain't got nobody to ride with. I ain't got nobody to fish with because I don't like to fish on the weekend," Tyrone Sanders said. "I just wish I could be with him."

Sanders' mother Felicia, who survived the church attack and testified before during the guilt phase, said her youngest son was always happy playing with anything he could find.

She relayed a Christmas she recycled Sanders' toys because he spent more time playing with empty boxes and bottles than his Christmas toys.

"As a young kid he was very, I never had to worry about him. He would play with the empty liter bottles in the house. One year he had so many toys he didn't play with I just put them up until next year," Felicia Sanders said.

He was a motivator, and pushed his mother to learn, she said. And they were close. She said Sanders would often sit at her bedside and talk to her, telling all his secrets -- even those she jokingly said he should have kept to himself.

But Sanders was maybe best known for his writing and poetry, what he told others was his gift from God.

After the shooting, Felicia Sanders said they went through her son's things and found enough writings to last her the rest of her life, including an autobiography of his father.

The Sanders family always looked forward to seeing the 26-year-old grow up, find a wife, and have a family of his own after spending so many years watching him care for his cousins, nieces, and nephews.

It's a reality they all said on Monday they would never see.

As Felicia Sanders left the stand, U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson rested the government's case.

Roof, 22, reiterated on Monday that he will not call any witnesses nor will he testify in his own defense. After a brief recess, Roof rested his case.

Already, jurors have heard from family members of Revs. Clementa Pinckney, Daniel Simmons Sr., Myra Thompson, and Depayne Middleton Doctor, as well as Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Ethel Lance, and Susie Jackson.

Jurors also heard from FBI Special Agent Joe Hamski and a Charleston County jail intelligence officer who explained the racist writings found in Roof's cell.

It was also revealed Roof wore white shoes to court with racist symbols drawn on them as recently as last week.

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