A federal judge has denied the defense’s motion for a mistrial in the capital murder case of accused Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof.
Roof’s lawyers filed the motion early Thursday morning, one day after emotionally charged testimony from one of the survivors of last year’s massacre at the city's historically black Emanuel AME Church.
“He’s evil. There is no place on earth for him except the pit of hell,” Felicia Sanders said while on the stand as the prosecution’s first witness.
The defense quoted that statement in its motion for a mistrial. But before denying the motion, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said he interpreted Sanders’ comment as a religious statement, not a recommendation for sentencing.
Family members, court officials and some members of the jury wiped away tears during yesterday’s testimony as Sanders described how she held her 11-year-old granddaughter tightly against her chest to keep her quiet during the shooting. Sanders said she watched Roof fatally shoot her 26-year-old son as he tried to persuade the gunman to stop his attack.
Thursday morning, the prosecution began calling police investigators to the stand to discuss the forensic investigation following the massacre at Emanuel AME Church. The judge has warned the court some of the testimony and evidence will be graphic.
So far, Roof, a a self-avowed white supremacist, has displayed no emotion during the testimony.
The court has released demographic information on the 12 jurors and six alternates. Among the 18 panelists, 12 are white, five are black. The race of one panelist is unspecified. Thirteen are female and five are male.
Those figures include all 18 panelists because it won’t be known which ones are serving as alternates until the end of the trial.