Dylan Roof Competent To Stand Trial, Says Judge
Dylann Roof has been deemed competent to stand trial starting next week in the killing of 9 black worshipers at a South Carolina church last year. A federal judge ruled on Friday that the 22-year old shooter is to stand trial in the future.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel‘s ruling allows for jury selection to restart on Monday.
The judge had delayed the process of narrowing the final jury pool on Nov. 7 when Roof’s lawyers suggested their client either didn’t understand the charges against him or couldn’t properly help them with his defense. The lawyers did not say what led them to question Roof’s fitness for trial.
Roof is charged in federal court with hate crime, obstruction of religion and other crimes for the June 2015 attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
Defense lawyers have not said what led them to question Roof’s competency and the judge sealed his findings for the same reason he took the rare step of only allowing a closed hearing. The reason was that Roof made statements to a psychologist that might not be legal to use at his trial and could taint potential jurors.
At Roof’s competency hearing, Gergel heard testimony from psychologist James Ballenger and four other unnamed witnesses, the judge wrote in his order. Ballenger completed his psychological review of Roof in mere days.
Roof also has already been found competent in state court, where prosecutors plan a second death penalty trial on nine counts of murder.
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