CHARLESTON, S.C. — Dylann Roof’s wide-ranging jailhouse writings, many of which reflect his thoughts posted in a racially charged online manifesto written before his attack on a Charleston church, were introduced in court Thursday by federal prosecutors seeking a death sentence.
Charleston County Detention Center officers collected the handwritten notes six weeks after Roof’s attack on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in which nine parishioners were killed. Officers had searched his cell as a precaution for fear the inmate might have been suicidal.
Portions of the writings, which indicated Roof had no remorse in the weeks following the attacks, were presented by federal prosecutors in opening statements as they seek the death penalty.
While he’s lost his freedom, Roof wrote, he remembered how he felt and realized the attacks were worth it. He added, “I’ve done all I can do.”
“I would like to make it crystal clear I do not regret what I did. I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed,” he wrote, and later continued, “I have shed a tear of self-pity for myself. I feel pity that I had to do what I did in the first place.”
The documents, consisting of several pages, were read to jurors by Lauren Knapp, a criminal intelligence analyst with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office whose duties include monitoring inmate phones calls and mail to and from the jail.
In them, Roof offered additional thoughts on race and clarifications on his own statements or interpretations of them.
He has been convicted of 33 federal counts, many of them based on hate crimes laws for targeting African-American victims. Those guilty verdicts, returned by the jury in December, also included attempted murder charges for three survivors of the attack, one of them an 11-year-old girl.
“I never intended to shoot the young girl in the church, I never aimed at her,” Roof wrote. “Therefore I resent the attempted murder charge as I resent the other two attempted murder charges.”
Roof had joined a Wednesday night Bible Study at Mother Emanuel and fired more than 70 rounds as parishioners — including the survivors — took cover under folding tables.
Should he receive life imprisonment, he wrote that he would be pardoned.
“I would consider myself well-versed on almost every issue facing white people around the world,” wrote Roof, then 21 years old and a high school dropout with a GED diploma.
He included several clarifications, many of them seemingly made in response to media reports of his online manifesto, posted at his now-defunct lastrhodesian.com.
Roof wrote that he was not obsessed with the case of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager whose 2012 shooting in Florida by George Zimmerman exposed a racial divide.
He used drugs to get high, not to mask any pain, was not suicidal and did not have a troubled childhood, according to the writings.
“I would like to finish writing my opinions,” he wrote to begin one page. “I was unable to finish before because I was in a hurry to get to Charleston.”
Prosecutors at the end of Thursday’s testimony said they expect to finish with witnesses, including more family members and an FBI agent, on Tuesday.