The mother of accused South Carolina shooter Dylann Roof suffered a courtroom heart attack not long after prosecutors described the church massacre her son is alleged to have committed, documents reveal.
Amelia Cowles fell ill at the start of her son's federal death penalty trial Wednesday. Cowles collapsed and repeatedly apologized as her family and court officials came to her aid, The Associated Press reported.
Not long before, prosecutors described in chilling detail Roof's alleged slaying of nine black churchgoers in an attack authorities believe was racially motivated.
Roof’s attorney mentioned the heart attack in court documents in which he asked for a mistrial, citing “spectators and even court personnel — including members of the prosecution and defense — were crying with" a survivor as she testified.
The documents did not list Cowles' condition.
The mother's heart attack was one of many dramatic moments in the trial this week. In another, the jury saw computer mockups of the crime scene that showed victims in pools of their own blood amid scattered shell casings.
In another, survivor Felicia Sanders described the aftermath of the shooting during which she said Roof said he was going to kill himself.
"I was counting on that. There’s no place on Earth for him other than the pit of hell," she told the court.
Roof is charged with 33 federal counts, including hate crimes in the case. He has pleaded not guilty. The defense has said he is willing to plead guilty if the death penalty is taken off the table.
Roof also faces nine murder charges at the state level. He faces another death penalty case next year.