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Dylann Roof asks judge to stop testimony from victims’ friends and family

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Dylann Roof

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The man who killed nine people in an African-American church Bible study asked a judge Thursday to stop “excessive” testimony from friends and family members of his victims.

Convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof argued that emotional and detailed testimony is prejudicing the case against him.

“A victim’s talent as a preacher may be described without showing a video of a prayer,” Roof wrote in a motion filed in federal court.

The motion comes on the second day of the penalty phase of Roof’s trial. Jurors are weighing whether he should be sentenced to death for the June 2015 massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Prosecutors have listed 38 witnesses they could call as they argue that Roof deserves the death penalty, though they say it’s likely that some on the list won’t take the stand. One key reason, they say, is that they want to show the void left behind by each person Roof killed.

“This is not remotely inappropriate testimony. Victims are entitled to tell about the death or loss that this defendant caused. We understand that is not an unlimited array of information; however, he is the one who chose to kill nine people,” Assistant US Attorney Jay Richardson said Thursday.

Friends and relatives of victims slain in the shooting have given emotional testimony, some of them sobbing on the stand.

The situation hasn’t been sitting well with Roof, who objected that too many people who weren’t family members of the victims were testifying against him.

“I also object to the extent and depth of the testimony, which is excessive and goes far beyond the ‘snapshot’ that the prosecutor claimed to be providing,” Roof wrote.

The 22-year-old avowed white supremacist suggested friends and relatives of his victims could be given a chance to speak more extensively at his sentencing, rather than before it.

“The question is not whether every family member who wishes to be heard will speak, but only when,” Roof wrote.