- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 11, 2017

Convicted mass murderer Dylann Roof told a judge last year that he’d rather die than be called autistic in court, newly released documents reveal.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel authorized the disclosure Wednesday of hundreds of pages connected to the case against Roof, a 23-year-old white supremacist found guilty last year of murdering nine members of a bible study in Charleston, South Carolina. The pages included previously unpublished court transcripts and psychiatric evaluations.

In a closed, pretrial hearing last November, Roof said being identified as autistic would be detrimental to his defense and worse than death, according to the documents.

“Could you explain that to me, being labeled autistic is worse than death?” Judge Gergel asked Roof, as stated in a hearing transcript released Wednesday.

“Because once you’ve got that label, there is no point in living anyway,” Roof replied.

David Bruck, Roof’s attorney at the time, said an expert had diagnosed Roof as “a geyser of autistic symptoms,” including a preoccupation with physical sensations and, as stated by his lawyer, “fixations on the most trivial and, I would have to say, irrational concerns.”

“It is our expectation that (our expert’s) testimony will be to confirm the diagnosis of autism,” Mr. Bruck said last November. Roof argued otherwise, however, and insisted autism wasn’t a factor in his case.

“Your lawyers are trying to help you, Mr. Roof,” the judge told him at one point. “They are trying to marshal a defense for you.”

“I get that,” Roof replied. “But the problem is … if the price is that people think I’m autistic, then it’s not worth it. … It discredits the reason why I did the crime.”

Roof fired his legal team later that month and briefly defended himself before being convicted in December on 33 counts connected to the June 2015 massacre inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, including committing a hate crime against black victims. He was sentenced to death in January.

“Why would I be sorry for what I planned and did?” Roof told a psychologist at one point, the new documents reveal. “You don’t feel sorry for people that you don’t identify with.”

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