Court docs say Charleston church shooter wanted to keep autism diagnosis under wraps
By Christen Smith
The white gunman convicted of murdering nine black parishioners during a bible study at a South Carolina church two years ago said he’d rather die than allow his lawyers to publicize his autism diagnosis.
“Because once you’ve got that label, there is no point in living anyway. You see what I am saying?” the 23-year-old gunman said at a November hearing during which his defense team tried to prove he was too incompetent to stand trial.
Jurors handed the shooter the death penalty in January after convicting him on 33 offenses, including murder and hate crimes, stemming from the June 17, 2015 attack at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. The shooter gunned down nine black parishioners during a bible study that evening and later told investigators he wanted to ignite a race war.
The gunman reportedly never expressed remorse for the killings and contradicted his legal team’s strategy to paint him as mentally disturbed, concerned he would “lose credit” for his crimes, even telling one evaluator autism “is for nerds and losers.”
“There’s nothing wrong with me,” he said in a transcript obtained by CNN. “The state psychiatrist told me there is nothing wrong with me. He said I don’t have autism.