Appeals court denies Dylann Roof request for new legal team
A federal court has denied Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof’s request for new attorneys to handle his appeal without comment on his argument that the ones appointed to him are Jewish and Indian and therefore “my political and biological enemies.”
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia issued a one-line ruling Tuesday saying only that “the court denies the motion for substitution of counsel on appeal.”
Roof, who received a death sentence in January for killing nine black church worshippers because of their race, penned his three-page motion from an Indiana prison that houses the federal execution chamber. A self-described “white nationalist,” Roof added that he already had found it impossible to work with his lead trial attorney, David Bruck, because he too was Jewish.
“His ethnicity was a constant source of conflict even with my constant efforts to look past it,” Roof wrote in his motion. “Trust is a vital component in an attorney client relationship, and is important to the effectiveness of the defense. Because of my political views, which are arguably religious, it will be impossible for me to trust two attorneys that are my political and biological enemies.”
Given the ethnicity of his court-appointed federal public defenders, Alexandra Yates and Sapna Mirchandani, it is “literally impossible that they and I could have the same interests related to my case,” Roof wrote.
Yates and Mirchandani were appointed after Roof was sentenced to death in January. During the trial, he often feuded with Bruck, who wanted to present evidence of mental illness and possible autism in an effort to garner Roof a life sentence.
Roof sought to represent himself in response, although he wound up allowing Bruck to serve as lead counsel during the guilt portion of the trial.
Roof still represented himself during the sentencing phase to ensure Bruck could not introduce mental health evidence.
At one point, Roof told Bruck he hated him and that “if he gets out of jail, he plans to come to Mr. Bruck’s house and kill him,” according to an affidavit filed by the defense team.
After his death sentence was imposed, Roof asked U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel to appoint him new lawyers so he didn’t have to continue with Bruck and his team. “I just don’t trust them,” Roof said.