[image-1]Morris Brown AME, Calvary Episcopal, Central Baptist, Ebenezer AME, St. Patrick Catholic — these are the Charleston churches that Dylann Roof included on a list along with Emanuel AME. The list, containing each church’s name and address, was found in Roof’s 2000 Hyundai Elantra along with dozens of rounds of ammunition and the weapon that authorities say was used to kill nine parishioners at Mother Emanuel in June 2015.
Continuing her testimony into the second week of Roof’s federal trial, former SLED agent Brittany Burke continued to detail the evidence collected from Roof’s car after he was apprehended in North Carolina. Among the spare clothes that Roof had brought along when he fled Charleston was a collection of seemingly random items all tied to the shooting at Emanuel AME and his alleged preparations to carry out the hate crimes for which he is charged: an empty bottle of Smirnoff Ice that he had sipped before entering the church, a burned American flag stuffed in his trunk, and numerous scraps of paper listing historic plantations and churches across the state.
The Glock pistol that was found in Roof’s car was purchased just days after his 21st birthday. Ronald Thrailkill, general manager of the West Columbia gun store where Roof bought the weapon took the stand Monday to explain the process that allowed the transaction to take place. On April 11, 2015, Roof entered the shop and began browsing for a handgun. Surveillance shows him slowly pacing through the store until he made his selection. A mandatory background check should have prohibited Roof from purchasing the weapon due to past drug charges. But after the three-day waiting period, no such warnings were raised as the result of a clerical error in the background check process.
Roof returned to the gun shop on April 16 and walked out with a .45-caliber Glock pistol and three magazines. Thrailkill testified that Roof immediately re-entered the store after purchasing the gun and bought two additional magazines. Before the end of the month, Roof would buy three more clips for the pistol. Agents testified earlier in the trial that seven magazines were collected at the scene of the shooting at Mother Emanuel, with an eight loaded into the Glock found in Roof’s car. Less than two weeks after the shooting, Thrailkill finally received a response regarding Roof’s background check, informing him to deny the sale.
Agent Kimberly Mears, a forensic scientist with SLED, took the stand later in the day. Examining the Glock and other items found in Roof’s car for latent fingerprints, Mears found that Roof’s prints were consistent with those found on the gun and magazines left behind at the church. Another expert witness was also able to match the bullets recovered at the scene of the shooting to Roof’s gun.
Tracy Sicks, an FBI agent specializing in cyber crimes, took the stand near the end of Monday’s proceedings to discuss the information pulled from the personal website attributed to Roof. Among the items that Sicks was able to preserve from the now defunct website were 60 photos depicting Roof near various historic landmarks and former plantations. Other photos showed him holding the Confederate battle flag and posing shirtless with a pistol in hand. A manifesto similar to the handwritten journal found in Roof’s car was also found on the website, detailing his beliefs in white nationalism and longing for a return to segregation.
Information from the computer found in the home of Roof’s father was analyzed by former FBI forensics technology examiner Amanda Simmons. Spending more than 5 hours copying information from the original harddrive, Simmons was able to sift through a mountain of data to find a copy of the online manifesto stored on the home computer, as well as remnants of the photos that were discovered online. Simmons also examined several USB drives found in Roof’s possession after he was arrested. Contained on one thumbdrive was a digital copy of the book Invisible Empire: The Story of the Ku Klux Klan.
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