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Judge holds private hearing on Dylann Roof’s mental health

A day before a jury would decide whether they would lay down the death penalty, a judge held a private meeting on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church shooter Dylann Roof’s mental competency.

“This is an incredibly sensitive moment in this proceeding,” US District Judge Richard Gergel said. “We are putting in the hands of 12 people the life and death of a person.”

The New York Daily News reported the meeting was private due to sensitive information that may sway the jury’s decision. Gergel also barred Roof from approaching witnesses during the sentencing trial which begins on January 3.

In December, the 22-year-old was found guilty of 33 federal hate crimes, stemming from the June 2015 murder of nine black churchgoers in  Charleston, SC. In addition to murder, NPR reported charges included obstruction of religious belief, weapons charges, and attempted murder.

The controversial trial continues to be clouded with questions surrounding Roof’s mental health. Jury selection was halted in November to determine whether the 22-year-old was competent to stand trial. Found competent, Roof fired his legal team only to reinstate them during the guilt phase of the trial.

The latest motion was reportedly put forth by the 22-year-old’s attorneys who are on standby. According to Vice News, Roof has dismissed psychology as a whole, labeling the field “a Jewish invention and does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they don’t” in a June 2015 journal entry.

Roof plans to represent himself during the sentencing phase. While the prosecution plans to call 38 witnesses related to the nine slain and three survivors, Roof isn’t expected to call any witnesses or submit any evidence in efforts to spare his life.

[Feature Photo by Charleston County Sheriff’s Office]