Dylann Storm Roof, sentenced to death for killing nine church worshippers in 2015, has been told by a court that he has to accept two lawyers appointed to handle his appeal.
Roof, 23, according to this report, filed a handwritten request in his federal appeals case on Monday seeking new attorneys, saying:
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.
The ones appointed for him are Alexandra Yates and Sapna Mirchandani – Jewish and Indian, respectively. They were appointed after Roof was sentenced to death in January this year.
In June 2015, the white supremacist targeted a prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. He killed nine people, all African Americans, including senior pastor and state senator Clementa C Pinckney, and injured one other person.
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. Roof wrote:
His ethnicity was a constant source of conflict even with my constant efforts to look past it. Trust is a vital component in an attorney client relationship, and is important to the effectiveness of the defense.
Roof sought to represent himself, 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.
After his death sentence was imposed, Roof asked US District Judge Richard Gergel to appoint him new lawyers so he didn’t have to continue with Bruck and his team.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia issued a one-line ruling on Tuesday saying only:
The court denies the motion for substitution of counsel on appeal.