Dylann Roof Trial: Evidence we saw for the first time in court

CHARLESTON, S.C.(WCBD) — The now convicted Charleston church shooter, Dylann Roof was found guilty of all 33 of his federal charges and is now back in solitary confinement awaiting the sentencing phase of his trial starting on Tuesday, January 3.

A guilty verdict was not a surprise considering Roof confessed to the crime, but there was surprising evidence presented in court. Things we had heard about or knew existed, but have never actually seen or heard. For example, we knew Roof had confessed to shooting people inside Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015, but we had not seen the interview video until now.

“I’m guilty,” said Roof plainly through a smile and breathy laughter. Dylann Roof’s own confession of guilt and now we know the jury agrees. We watched as he described and even showed the agents how he did it.

The first witness was one of the three survivors, Felicia Sanders. The prosecutor had her talk about the nine people individually, making them more than victims. They were her friends. She described watching those friends and family murdered, soaking herself in her aunt and son’s blood so Roof would think she was already dead.

Her recollection we have heard before. However, for the first time, we saw the crime scene photos matching gruesome images to her graphic words. The panoramic pictures showed lifeless bodies lying in the church basement surrounded by blood. Sanders’ testimony ended broken by sobs when she said, “I watched my son come into this world and I watched him leave this world”

Felicia Sanders son, Tywanza, shot at least five times after standing to protect the three still alive. We heard a glimpse of this mother and son’s final moments together when the prosecution played for the first time the recording of Polly Sheppard’s 911 call.

“There are so many people dead I think. Oh my God.” You can hear Sheppard say to the dispatcher on the other line. Then, you can hear Tywanza Sanders groans in the background and his mother’s voice trying to comfort her son.

Then for the first time, we saw the video Roof took of himself practicing with the murder weapon the day before he unloaded 74 bullets. Also, the handwritten note of multiple African-American churches in Charleston—their addresses, phone numbers and service times. Emanuel AME was at the top.

The sentencing phase where a jury decides if Roof will get life in prison or the death penalty starts on January 3. Dylann Roof will represent himself.

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