On the dramatic first day of the trial of Dylann Roof, a testimony sends his mother into a heart attack. The defense argued said testimony was grounds for a mistrial, though the motion has been denied.
The trial of Dylann Roof, the 22-year-old who shot and killed nine people in an attack on an African American church in Charleston on June 17, 2015, began on Wednesday (Dec. 7). Jurors gathered in the courtroom to begin the proceedings that will eventually determine if Roof is to receive the death penalty. After prosecutor Jay Richardson recounted the racially motivated massacre, Roof's mother, Amy Roof, collapsed and was admitted to the hospital with a heart attack.
The defense cited Roof's mother's medical emergency in a request for a mistrial, which was denied today by U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel. The defense's main argument for a mistrial was based on yesterday's testimony from 59-year-old Felicia Sanders, a survivor of the attack and the mother of 23-year-old Tywanza Sanders and the niece of 87-year-old Susie Jackson, both whom were killed in front of her. Below is a partial transcript of her testimony:
"The defendant over there -- with his head hanging down, refusing to look at me -- said, 'I have to do this. Y'all are raping our white women. Y'all are taking over the world.' That's when he put about five bullets in my son. I watched my son come into this world and I watched my son leave this world."
When considering a necessary punishment for Roof, Sanders was quoted as saying, "He is evil, there is no place for him except the pit of hell."
The defense took particular issue with Sanders condemning Roof to "hell," believing that such "improper" language, while understandable, does not belong in the courtroom. In denying the mistrial, the judge classed Sanders' comments as religious in nature and unrelated to a viewpoint on legal sentencing.