Judge to weigh South Carolina church
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[January 02, 2017]
By Harriet McLeod
CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - A judge will
hold a hearing on Monday to determine if Dylann Roof is mentally fit to
serve as his own lawyer after saying he would not defend himself against
the death penalty at his federal trial for the 2015 massacre at a South
The 22-year-old avowed white supremacist's standby lawyers filed a
motion arguing that Roof was not competent to stand trial or represent
himself after he revealed at a hearing last week that he would present
no evidence or witnesses during the sentencing phase of the federal
His announcement raised "in especially stark fashion the question of
whether the defendant is actually unable to defend himself," the lawyers
said in a court filing. "At a minimum, it suggests that he may lack the
mental capacity to assume the role of his own lawyer."
Roof was found guilty last month of 33 counts of federal hate crimes
resulting in death, obstruction of religion and firearms violations
stemming from the shooting of nine black parishioners attending a Bible
study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in
A team led by prominent capital defense lawyer David Bruck represented
Roof during the guilt phase of the trial.
Roof has opted to represent himself for the sentencing phase, due to
begin on Tuesday, and has sought to keep jurors from hearing evidence
about his competency and mental health.
At the standby lawyers' urging, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel
ordered a psychiatric examination of Roof and set the competency hearing
for Monday, a federal holiday.
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Police lead suspected shooter Dylann Roof into the courthouse in
Shelby, North Carolina, U.S., June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Miczek
Gergel refused the defense team's request to delay the competency
hearing by a week to allow more time to prepare.
The judge previously found Roof competent to stand trial after a
hearing held in November ahead of the guilt phase.
(Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by
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