Judge allows Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof to represent himself at trial as jury selection continues
Roof, 22, shot attendees of a bible study group at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, June 17, 2015
Nine parishioners, including the vicar, 41-year-old state congressman Clementa Pinckney, died on at the scene
Roof is charged with hate crimes and obstruction of religion in connection with the attack
Roof said he shot his victims because he ‘hated black people’ and ‘wanted to start a race war’
He faces a possible death sentence if convicted
Judge Richard Gergel rules that Dylann Roof can represent himself at trial
US District Judge Richard Gergel said he would reluctantly accept Roof’s ‘unwise’ decision and allow Dylann Roof to represent himself at trial. Roof’s request on Monday came against his lawyers’ advice, he faces a possible death sentence if convicted.
Dylann Roof, who is accused of fatally shooting nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church, will act as his own attorney in his federal death penalty trial.
Photo lineup of the nine victims, all black, including the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who died on June 17, 2015. They were shot by by mass murderer, Dylann Roof, at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston
Roof’s request on Monday came against his lawyers’ advice, and US District Judge Richard Gergel said he would reluctantly accept Roof’s ‘unwise’ decision.
Noted death penalty attorney David Bruck then slid over and let Roof take the lead chair.
The lawyers can stand by and help Roof if he asks.
Dylann Roof, who is accused of fatally shooting nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church, will now act as his own attorney in his federal death penalty trial. His attorney David Bruck , a respected expert on death penalty cases then slid over and let Roof take the lead chair. It should be noted that defense attorneys can stand by and help Roof if he asks.
The jury selection process was halted on November 7 after lawyers for Roof questioned his ability to understand the case against him, but judge Gergel’s ruling last week cleared the way for Monday’s process to begin anew.
Under arrest: On June 17, 2015, then 21-year-old Dylann Roof attacked Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston
Roof, now 22-year-old is charged with multiple felonies including hate crimes and obstruction of religion in connection with the June 17, 2015, attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston which could attract capital punishment if he convicted. There nine fatalities, black people, including the the pastor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, 41, died in the church massacre, and Roof later told investigators he wanted to ‘start a race war’. Other victims include Cynthia Hurd, 54, the Rev Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, Tywanza Sanders, 26, Ethel Lance, 70, Susie Jackson, 87, Depayne Middleton Doctor, 4, the Rev Daniel Simmons, 74, and Myra Thompson, 59, all of whom died in the attack.
Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is a historic landmark in the history of black emancipation and the struggle for civil rights in the deep south
Beginning Monday, the task of picking 70 qualified jurors from a pool of 516 commenced, which will be later whittled down to 12 jurors and six alternates. Judge Richard Gergel had delayed the process of narrowing the jury pool when Roof’s lawyers suggested that their he either did not understand the charges against him, else his activities and utterances could jeopardize his own defense.
The decision was made after a hastily called two-day closed door hearing to determine if the defendant is mentally fit to stand trial. Judge Gergel heard testimony from five witnesses including psychologist James Ballenger and reviewed sworn statements from three others.
Roof in social media identified with extremely bigoted doctrinaire. He allegedly, shouted racial insults at the six women and three men he is charged with killing as well as the three psurvivors
Victims’ relatives, who feel the accused was being trated with kid gloves, complained about the secrecy surrounding the proceedings. The judge however, insisted the steps he has taken ensure Roof receives a fair trial and that pre-trial exposure doesn’t provide grounds for an appeal.
Roof faces a second suit in state court, for which he has been found competent. Prosecutors plan a second death penalty trial on nine counts of murder.
According to police, Roof sat through nearly an hour of prayer and Bible study at the church with its pastor and 11 others before pulling a gun from his fanny pack and firing dozens of shots.
He said he left the three survivors, unharmed so they could tell the world the shootings were because he hated black people.
Roof shouted racial insults at the six women and three men he is charged with killing and the three people left alive. He left the three unharmed so they could tell the world the shootings were because he hated black people, authorities said.