Dylann Roof has been convicted of the murders of nine good men and women, people he butchered in his rampage through a Baptist church.
Now he’s crying over the…unfairness…of the penalty phase of his trial. At the risk of repeating things known to those of you following along at home, Roof is defending himself during this phase, and he’s chosen to offer neither witnesses nor mitigating evidence during this phase.
In the punishment phase of a felony trial, the prosecution has to go first, which gives the defense the better position of having its presentation fresher in the minds of the jury. In Roof’s trial penalty phase, the prosecution has presented a number of witnesses, who’ve offered “heart-ripping testimony,” to use The New York Times‘ phrase, concerning the devastation Roof’s rampage caused. As the prosecution finished its examination of each of the 20 witnesses (so far, as of the date of the NYT‘s piece), Roof was offered opportunity to cross-examine; he declined—”no questions”—each time.
Roof ultimately argued the unfairness of this phase:
It is not fair to allow that much testimony to be heard by the jury when I am not presenting any evidence—from my family or anyone else—in mitigation. If I don’t present any mitigation evidence, the victim-impact evidence will take over the whole sentencing trial and guarantee that I get the death penalty.
That’s just a bit of too bad. The prosecution isn’t bound by the decisions, tactical or otherwise, of the defense.