The white man who killed 9 black parishioners at a South Carolina church last year, has been cleared by a judge to defend himself.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel’s decision Monday came as jury selection is getting underway in the federal trial after a three-week delay. Jury selection was initially scheduled to begin earlier this month, but it was abruptly postponed after last-minute questions arose about Roof’s ability to understand the proceedings and assist in his own defense.
On Friday, Gergel ruled that Roof was competent to stand trial, although he kept sealed his exact reasons for doing so, and hearings and filings on the matter also were shielded from public view.
Gergel will issue a written order later Monday, according to the Justice Department.
According to the Post and the Courier newspaper, “Roof told Gergel that he wanted his attorneys to continue sitting at his table during the trial and act as his “standby counsel.”
Attorney’s for Roof have said that he had planned to plead guilty if the federal government did not seek a death sentence. David Bruck, an attorney for Roof, did not respond to a message seeking comment about Roof’s decision to represent himself.
Prosecutors say that “Roof “self-radicalized” online, absorbing violent white supremacist beliefs through the Internet, rather than from any personal experiences or associations.”
Authorities found one of Roof’s manifestos online filled with racist characterizations of black people, along with a picture of Roof holding a Confederate battle flag. They have also found two handwritten manifestos from Roof, one in his jail cell and the other in his car.
The Washington Post reports that with this decision, Dylann Roof, 22, would be able to question survivors of the attack.
— Donnie Fetter (@DonnieFetter) November 28, 2016
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