Trials

Dylann Roof's lawyers call no witnesses in Charleston church shooting trial

Jonathan Serrie reports from Charleston

 

Lawyers for Dylann Roof, the man accused of killing nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church during a Bible study last year, rested their case without calling any witnesses Wednesday after a judge ruled they could not present evidence about his mental health.

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U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel sent the jury home for the day just after noon. Closing arguments are set for Thursday.

If the jury decided Roof was guilty of federal hate crimes and obstruction of religion in connection with the June 2015 shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, those jurors would return next month and decide whether to sentence him to death or life in prison.

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Defense attorney David Bruck had aimed to call mental health experts and present job applications and academic records. But Gergel said that evidence was irrelevant to whether Roof was guilty of attacking the church.

Earlier Wednesday before resting their case, prosecutors played the 911 call a survivor made after they said Roof deliberately left her behind.

"I'm under the table. Yes he's a young 21 year old white dude. No I don't know, I don't know. He's reloading... I don't know there's so many. Help us Lord please help us..... that's another lady talking...I think they're dead," Polly Sheppard said in the call.

She testified about how Roof told her to shut up as she prayed aloud and that he would leave her alive to tell people he attacked the historic African-American church because he hated black people.

Also Wednesday, a medical examiner testified that it took her four days to finish examining all the bodies. Dr. Erin Presnell showed X-rays of each person killed and pictures of the bullets she removed. She said every victim was shot at least five times, and many of them had several wounds to their arms.

Some family members of the victims stayed out of the courtroom as Presnell testified.

Fox News Multimedia Reporter Terace Garnier in Charleston and The Associated Press contributed to this report.