Rejecting the entirety of psychology as a "Jewish invention," Dylann Roof may have (accidentally or purposefully) condemned himself to the death penalty. An analysis of the situation from The New York Times suggests that were Roof to allow testimony from mental health experts, he may have been able to create a convincing enough argument to spare him from capital punishment.
Roof's statements about psychology are a common refrain amongst white supremacists. “I want state that I am morally opposed to psychology,” Roof wrote. “It is a Jewish invention, and does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they dont ... I will not be calling mental health experts or presenting mental health evidence."
Roof is currently acting as his own lawyer in the penalty phase of his trial after being declared guilty. This goes against warnings from his own lawyers and from the judge assigned to the case. NYT writers Kevin Sack and Alan Blinder essentially suggest that Roof could have saved his own life if he had chosen to argue that he was and/or is insane: "Although a defense based on his psychological capacity might be his best opportunity to avoid execution," they write, "he seems steadfastly committed to preventing any public examination of his mental state or background."
“If the jury views Roof as evil and having made a knowing, intelligent choice to kill these innocent, churchgoing people in order to foment racial hatred, they are much more likely to impose the death penalty than if they believe him to be a young and severely mentally ill person who acted under delusional racist beliefs,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a research group.
Should Roof be given the death penalty, he will likely face years of appeals before ultimately being executed. “It’s something that Roof will likely regret,” said Peter D. Greenspun, a lawyer with experience in this field. “At some point down the road, he’s going to say, ‘What did I do?’ And there’s no going back.”
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