Prosecutors say the 22-year-old high school dropout targeted the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in June 2015 to start a race war.
Roof attended their Bible study for almost an hour before removing a pistol from his fanny pack and killing nine parishioners. Five people survived the massacre, two by hiding in a nearby office.
Legal experts say by representing himself, Roof could potentially cross-examine survivors and family members of the deceased, putting them face-to-face with the accused racist killer during his trial.
If you remember, during Roof’s bond hearing several days after the horrific killings, family members of the victims forgave the mass murderer for his heinous acts.
But Rev. Sharon Risher, daughter of victim Ethel Lance, is not ready to forgive the hate-filled killer just yet.
On Tuesday, she spoke with Roland Martin about the case and her reaction to Roof choosing to defend himself in court.
Risher said, “Watching everything unfold on TV yesterday, every fiber of my soul was on alert — not only did we have to be in a courtroom with him, now we have to see him representing himself…It’s like he’s mocking what he did and I just pray that America won’t just stand by and let this travesty continue.”
Risher has been “very vocal about not being able to forgive Dylann Roof.”
She said, “As a pastor, I understand that forgiveness is a journey and some people get there faster than others and at this point, trying to move towards forgiveness, now we have him wanting to represent himself — I still can’t be authentic and say I’m going to forgive him.
“Eventually that will happen, but right now I’m going to be my authentic self and voice what I feel,” Rev. Risher continued. “There’s no forgiveness from me at this time — I can’t.”
South Carolina State Rep. Cezar McKnight believes if the Department of Justice decided to accept Roof’s guilty plea, waiving all rights to an appeal and taking a mandatory life sentence, “We wouldn’t now be risking putting the victims’ families through all of this trauma by having to sit there and potentially answer questions from the person who killed their loved one.”
Watch Roland Martin, Rev. Sharon Risher, State Rep. Cezar McKnight and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the case against Dylann Roof in the video clip above.
PHOTO CREDIT: Alex Colby