Amelia Cowles, mother of accused-gunman Dylann Roof, suffered a heart attacked in a Charleston courtroom as prosecutors described — in gory and chilling detail — his scheme to murder black church-goers.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry” Cowles wheezed as she collapsed.
She was quickly flanked by family members, court personnel, and members of both legal teams. She was admitted to an area hospital where she is receiving treatment. Her condition is not life-threatening.
David Bruck, who leads Roof’s defense team, called for a mistrial, citing the heart attack as well as emotionally-charged comments made by Felicia Sanders, a witness who suggested that Roof was bound for eternal damnation.
“He said he was going to kill himself,” she said on the witness stand. “I was counting on that. There’s no place on Earth for him other than the pit of hell.” Sanders’ survived the savage attack at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, though her son, 26-year-old Tywanza Sanders, was among the nine killed. (RELATED: Families Of S.C. Church Shooting Victims Urge Forgiveness For Dylann Roof)
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel denied the request for a mistrial, finding her statements were of a religious nature and were not offered for the jury as a legal conclusion.
Bruck is leading Roof’s defense in the early stages of the trial, though his role will recede as the proceedings continue. Roof has elected to stage his own defense, over the judge’s strenuous objection. Gergel called the move “strategically unwise,” before ultimately relenting and allowing Roof to continue pro se.
Roof faces 33 federal charges: nine counts of violating the Hate Crime Act resulting in death; three counts of violating the Hate Crime Act involving an attempt to kill; nine counts of obstruction of exercise of religion resulting in death; three counts of obstruction of exercise of religion involving an attempt to kill and use of a dangerous weapon; nine counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence.
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