Jailhouse conversations between Dylann Roof and family released to press

CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) —  For the first time, a federal judge allowed the press to watch videos of Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof speaking with his family members while in jail.

Roof was sentenced to death in January for killing nine parishioners while they participated in Bible study in June of 2015.

The videos show three hours of jailhouse visits from Dylann Roof’s family members to the Al Cannon Detention Center, where Roof was being held.

The conversations are at times light-hearted, with Roof joking with his family and asking about his cats and clothing.

However, his federal murder trial and sentencing is often brought up in their conversations.

The first video was recorded on November 19, 2016, just days before Roof’s competency hearing was to begin. Roof’s father and mother visited him.

Roof’s father asked him questions that seem to be in order to determine Roof’s competency.

“Do you go back in the courtroom Monday?” he asked.

Roof replied, “What’s a courtroom?” and later, “what does the judge do?”

As his father explained the courtroom and judge, Roof began laughing. It became clear later in the conversation that Roof understands that he is about to go through a competency hearing, and he knows the facts of the case.

At the mention of Roof’s attorneys, Roof called them “evil.” He told his parents, “do not trust my lawyers…they’re tricking you.”

“They’re the sneakiest people in the whole wide world,” Roof added.

Roof also told his parents his lawyers are crazy for thinking he has autism, and he said they misdiagnosed him on purpose.  To that statement, one of his parents said, “in order to save your life.”

Toward the end of the video, a conversation between Roof and his father leads Roof to say, “I’m going to do something even worse before it goes to trial.” That brought his father to tears. Roof told his mother he was kidding.

His mother told him, “Baby, nothing can be worse than what you’ve already done.”

Before the visiting session ended, both parents told Roof they love him and miss him.

Roof yelled to his mother seconds before the video cut off, “I love you. I love you. I love you, bye.”

The second video was recorded on December 18, 2016, after Roof’s federal murder trial was complete, and Roof was found guilty.

Roof’s father and sister visited Roof in jail on that day.

Roof’s sister told him that she had seen his home videos that were of him practicing shooting a gun. He told his sister, “No one was supposed to see that.”

Again, at the mention of his lawyers, he called them liars.

Roof also animatedly discussed plans for if he is given the death penalty. He explained he can invite two family members to view it. His sister expressed interest in seeing it.

In the final video conversation, Roof talked with his mother and her boyfriend on December 27, 2016.

Much of the video is discussing clothes that he wanted his mother to purchase and give to him for the sentencing phase of his trial that was to begin January 3, 2017.

Roof’s mother also encouraged him to hire his lawyers again. He fired them before this conversation took place. Roof explained to his mother that he is able to represent himself, and he has statements prepared.

When Roof’s mother encouraged him to rely on his lawyers, he laughed at her.

She said, “I can’t tell you what to do; all I can do is love you.”

The videos from jail are available for view at the US District Courthouse in Downtown Charleston by appointment only.

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