Accused mass murdered Dylann Roof wrote in a court filing unsealed on Thursday that it was "not fair" that the prosecution was presenting such extensive testimony from the victims' family on how the shooting impacted them. 

Roof argues that because he is not presenting any evidence in his defence, the volume of emotional testimony from the families will guarantee that he is given the death penalty.

"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," Roof wrote. Apart from his opening statements, this is his first substantive contribution to the penalty phase of the trial.

Judge Richard Gergel ultimately didn't impose any limits on the testimony presented by the prosecution, but he did agree that the length of the testimony was likely unnecessary. He told the prosecutors as much.

I'm concerned both about the number of witnesses and the length of their testimony and the length collectively of their testimony, and I want you to revisit your strategy here, because at some point I'm going to cut you off if it gets too long.

Prosecutors have indicated that they may call as many as 38 witnesses to give evidence, though it's highly likely the final figure will be significantly less.

The prosecution is angling hard for the death penalty for Roof, and to do so they need to prove that the aggravating factors in the case outweigh all mitigating evidence. They're leaning on evidence of Roof's racial animus, his stated lack of remorse – he has openly said he "has not shed a tear for the innocent people [he] killed" – and the impact the crime had on the families of the 9 people he killed.

We'll keep you posted.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald.
Photo: Getty Images / Pool.