Dylann Roof's chances of getting a hearing at a new appellate court are waning. A court refused to reconsider recusing himself from Dylann Roof’s appeal against his death sentence and conviction for the 2015 racist murders of nine members in a Black South Carolina congregation.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued this decision Tuesday.
Roof's case was heard by all four South Carolina judges. Although Roof was not given an explanation in a May notice by any of the judges, Jay Richardson, who was the assistant U.S. Attorney in Roof's case, was the one sentenced to death in 2017 for federal hate crimes.
According to authorities, Roof set fire to the Bible study at Mother Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, South Carolina during the closing prayer. He then rained down dozens upon those present. Roof was 21 years old at the time.
Citing its recusal had denied Roof's request to have a new hearing. It also ruled against the possibility of Roof being heard by a full court composed of substitute judges from other circuits.
Roof appealed to a panel of judges from other circuits. The judges unanimously upheld his conviction and death sentence.
Roof's lawyers argued that Roof was not allowed to represent himself at sentencing. Roof's attorneys claim that Roof prevented jurors hearing evidence about his mental state, "under the delusion” that white-nationalists would rescue him from prison. However, this is only if Roof kept his mental-ill health out of the public domain.
Two members of a neo-Nazi gang spoke to the FBI about Roof's release from Terre Haute, Indiana's maximum-security prison. They also discussed the number and method of a shootout.
Roof could file a 2255 appeal if he is unsuccessful in his direct appeal. This appeal asks that the trial court reconsider the constitutionality and sentence of his conviction. Roof could also petition the U.S. Supreme Court to seek a presidential pardon.