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Crime

Charleston shooting trial sees Dylann Roof laugh during confession video

Jurors in Dylann Roof's hate crimes trial have seen the murder confession he made to the FBI following a mass shooting at a Charleston church. In the video he laughed and told the agents of his belief in white supremacy.

USA Schießerei in einer Kirche in South Carolina Täter (Reuters/Pool TPX Images of the day)

In this archive image, Dylann Roof appears by closed-circuit television at a 2015 bond hearing

Dylann Roof barely hestitated before confessing to the FBI that he shot dead nine African-American churchgoers, the jury in his murder trial heard on Friday.

"Uh, I did it," he said about 20 seconds after a federal agent asked what he was doing on the night of June 17, 2015. "I killed them," he added, and laughed.

The video, taken one day after the slaying at a Bible study in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, was shown to jurors as Roof's trial entered its third day. Roof did not look up or show any emotion as the footage was played. He was 21 years old at the time of the shootings.

'I support Hitler'

"I was sitting there thinking about whether I should do it or not. That's why I sat there for 15 minutes. I could have walked out," Roof said in the video.

USA Prozess Dylann Roof (picture-alliance/AP Images)

Security was tight outside the Charleston Federal Courthouse

He told the investigators that he chose Emanuel because it was the oldest historically black church in the southern US, and that he had been partially inspired by the killing of the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012. Martin's killer, George Zimmerman, was later acquitted after pleading self defense.

His rambling confession also included Roof expressing his support for Adolf Hilter, explaining he had brought exactly 88 bullets to the scene. The number 88 is used a shorthand amongst white supremacists for the phrase "Heil Hilter."

The accused said he had originally intended to kill himself, but had changed his mind. He was arrested the next day at a traffic stop in North Carolina.

Roof's mother has heart attack over testimony

Roof is being tried on 33 federal counts, including hate crimes. The emotionally-charged trial has already seen one survivor call the defendant "evil," and a stone-faced Roof refuse to look at gruesome photos of the victims. The accused shooter's mother suffered a heart attack on Wednesday after listening to one witness' tearful testimony.

Prosecutors have rejected a deal for Roof to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. Instead, he has pled not guilty and faces the death penalty if convicted on hate crimes charges. Defense attorneys asked on Friday for the judge to consider allowing evidence that would provide insight into Roof's state of mind at the time of the shooting.

Roof's current trial focuses on his hate crime charges. His trial for state murder charges of six women and three men, including pastor and state Senator Clementa C. Pinckney, is set to begin on January 17. Both are capital cases.

es/se (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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