The high-profile trial of Dylann Roof for the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church began on Wednesday with devastating eyewitness accounts of the racially motivated attack on June 17, 2015. One witness recalled how the now-22-year-old white supremacist entered the Bible study session that night and waited almost 45 minutes for the 12 participants to stand and close their eyes in prayer before opening fire. Roof methodically shot 77 times, killing nine parishioners. The testimony was so haunting and emotional that Roof’s mother collapsed in the courtroom of a heart attack while mouthing “I’m sorry.”
“In the defense’s opening statement, attorney David Bruck said ‘there is not a great deal to dispute’ and both he and [the lead prosecutor] expected the jury would find Roof guilty,” according to the Associated Press. “The defense has said repeatedly in federal and state court that Roof would be willing to plead guilty if capital punishment was taken off the table.”
Roof is facing 33 counts, 18 of which carry the death penalty.