The murder trial of Charleston’s Chruch Shooter Dylan Roof was so emotional that his mother reportedly suffered a heart attack after hearing prosecutors describe how her son murdered nine people in cold blood on Wednesday (Dec 7).
Roof’s mother collapsed and said “I’m sorry” several times as family members and court security came to help her during the opening of her son’s federal death penalty trial, NBC News reports.
Roof’s attorney, David Bruck, mentioned the heart attack in court documents asking for a mistrial, saying a survivor’s testimony was so emotional that “spectators and even court personnel — including members of the prosecution and defense — were crying with her.”
Bruck argued in the motion for the mistrial that testimony from shooting survivor Felicia Sanders was inappropriate because it seemed to contain a statement on what Roof’s sentence should be.
Sanders told jurors about the horror of seeing her son and her aunt shot to death and sheltering with her granddaughter beneath a table. At one point, she looked across the courtroom toward Roof and called him “evil, evil, evil.”
Bruck asked her on cross-examination whether she remembered Roof saying anything in the aftermath of the shootings.
“He said he was going to kill himself,” she said. “I was counting on that. There’s no place on Earth for him other than the pit of hell.”
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel denied the mistrial request and said he interpreted Sanders’ testimony as “a religious comment.” He instructed jurors that any decision on guilt or a sentence is up to the jury — not the attorneys or witnesses in the case.