RELIGION

The Latest: Widow describes night of church shootings

  • FILE - In this June 18, 2015 file photo, Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C. The sentencing phase of Roof's federal trial begins Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Charleston. He could face the death penalty or life in prison. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

    FILE - In this June 18, 2015 file photo, Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C. The sentencing phase of Roof's federal trial begins Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Charleston. He could face the death penalty or life in prison. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - This undated photo that appeared on Lastrhodesian.com, a website investigated by the FBI in connection with Dylann Roof, shows him posing for a photo holding a Confederate flag. Roof, who would later admit he wanted to start a race war, fatally shot eight black worshippers and their pastor at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The following week, Obama delivered the eulogy for the slain Rev. Clementa Pinckney, speaking about the symbolism of the Confederate flag and how racial bias infects everyday life. (Lastrhodesian.com via AP, File)

    FILE - This undated photo that appeared on Lastrhodesian.com, a website investigated by the FBI in connection with Dylann Roof, shows him posing for a photo holding a Confederate flag. Roof, who would later admit he wanted to start a race war, fatally shot eight black worshippers and their pastor at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The following week, Obama delivered the eulogy for the slain Rev. Clementa Pinckney, speaking about the symbolism of the Confederate flag and how racial bias infects everyday life. (Lastrhodesian.com via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

The Latest on the federal sentencing of Dylann Roof in the deaths of nine people at a South Carolina church (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

The widow of a pastor and state senator slain by Dylann Roof is describing for jurors the night the white man killed her husband and eight other black church members.

Jennifer Pinckney testified Wednesday that she was in her husband's office with their daughter when she heard gunshots. She says she locked the door and shoved her daughter under a desk. She put her hand over her daughter's mouth and told her to be quiet.

Pinckney was the first witness called to testify during the sentencing phase of Roof's trial. Jurors are deciding whether to send him to prison for life or to death.

Roof is representing himself during the sentencing phase. He told jurors earlier that there is nothing wrong with psychologically. He didn't offer any remorse for the killings or explain his motivations.

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11:40 a.m.

The widow of a pastor and state senator slain by Dylann Roof says her husband was a selfless student of faith and history who was drawn to serving both his congregation and the public.

Jennifer Pinckney was the first witness prosecutors called Wednesday in Roof's sentencing trial. She also shed light on her husband's goofy personal side, saying he loved to sing, dance and watch children's shows with his two young daughters.

Clementa Pinckney pastored Emanuel AME Church and was among the nine people killed there in June 2015. His widow says Pinckney was "a voice for the voiceless" and never stopped working to find solutions for his flock and constituents.

Prosecutors have said they'll call several dozen witnesses to testify during Roof's sentencing. Jurors are considering if he'll be sentenced to death or life in prison. Roof, who is representing himself, has said he plans to put up no case.

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10:50 a.m.

Convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof did not ask jurors to spare his life or for the death penalty during his brief opening statement at his sentencing trial.

The soft-spoken Roof told jurors Wednesday that there is nothing wrong with him psychologically and that his lawyers forced him to go through two competency hearings.

He stood at a podium and slowly and calmly spoke to the jurors, glancing occasionally at notes in front of him. He told jurors there wasn't anything he was trying to keep secret from them and said he was better at embarrassing himself than anyone else.

Roof's lawyers indicated he wanted to represent himself because he was worried they might present embarrassing evidence about him or his family.

Prosecutors asked jurors to sentence Roof to death, saying the "horrific acts" of killing nine black church members in June 2015 deserved capital punishment. The prosecutors say Roof didn't show any remorse, and they read a portion from a journal found in Roof's jail cell six weeks after his arrest. In the journal, Roof said he had not wept for any of the victims and did not regret what he did.

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10:20 a.m.

Federal prosecutors say convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof should be sentenced to death because he killed nine black parishioners because of the color of their skin.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams gave the government's opening statement Wednesday during Roof's sentencing, calling the killings "horrific acts." The same jurors who convicted Roof last month are now being asked to decide whether he should face life in prison or the death penalty.

Williams said Roof has felt no remorse for the June 2015 killings at Emanuel AME Church and he intentionally picked vulnerable, trusting people to slaughter.

Roof, who is white, is acting as his own attorney during this phase of the trial and he will give an opening statement later Wednesday. He says he doesn't plan to call any witnesses or present any evidence.

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10 a.m.

Jurors have returned to court for the federal sentencing of convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof.

The same 12-member jury that last month found Roof guilty of 33 federal charges returned to court Wednesday to begin mulling if he should get the death penalty or life in prison. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel began the hearing by reading instructions to the jury on what they'll need to consider in determining Roof's sentence.

The 22-year-old Roof is representing himself but has said he plans to call no witnesses or introduce any evidence. His former legal team has said Roof fears embarrassing himself or his family.

Prosecutors plan to call up to 38 people related to the nine people killed and three who survived the June 2015 slaughter during Bible study at Emanuel AME Church.

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9:30 a.m.

Attorneys are discussing an order that governs how convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof can move around the courtroom while he represents himself at his federal sentencing.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel says it's important prosecutors and Roof "are on the same playing field" in terms of how the jury views their roles in the courtroom.

The same 12-member jury that last month found Roof guilty of 33 federal charges returns to court Wednesday to begin mulling if he should get the death penalty or be sentenced to life in prison.

The 22-year-old Roof is representing himself but has said he plans to call no witnesses or introduce any evidence. His former legal team has said Roof fears embarrassing himself or his family.

Prosecutors plan to call up to 38 people related to the nine people killed and three who survived the June 2015 slaughter during Bible study at Emanuel AME Church.

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5:50 a.m.

The same jury that last month unanimously found Dylann Roof guilty in the slayings of nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church is returning to court to begin contemplating his punishment.

The sentencing phase of Roof's federal trial begins Wednesday in Charleston. He could face the death penalty or life in prison.

The 22-year-old Roof is representing himself but has said he plans to call no witnesses or introduce any evidence. His former legal team has said Roof fears embarrassing himself or his family.

Prosecutors plan to call up to 38 people related to the nine people killed and three who survived the June 2015 slaughter during Bible study at Emanuel AME Church.

After a daylong hearing Monday, a judge again found Roof competent to represent himself and stand trial for sentencing.