A judge has deemed Dylann Roof mentally competent to represent himself and face sentencing after gunning down nine black churchgoers at Emanuel AME.
US District Judge Richard Gergel also granted the 22-year-old’s request for an extra day to prepare for the sentencing trial, Fox News reports.
Gergel opted to have a private hearing after Roof’s standby counsel filed a motion determine his mental ability. Roof initially pushed against this closed-door meeting, saying “I know this is not a legal argument, but the unsealing of the competency hearing defeats the purpose of me representing myself.”
#DylannRoof found mentally competent to face potential death sentence in penalty phase of #RoofTrial. Latest here: https://t.co/yM0UNbBmtT
— Glenn Smith (@glennsmith5) January 2, 2017
According to The Daily Beast, Gergel rejected his request, however, only agreeing to release his records after sentencing closed out. “This is an incredibly sensitive moment in this proceeding. We are putting in the hands of 12 people the life and death of a person,” he said.
It took a jury just two hours to find Roof guilty of all 33 counts—including hate crimes—related to the June 2015 massacre. Prosecutors argued that Roof opened fire at the historic Charleston, SC church because he wanted a race war. Polly Sheppard, a survivor of the shooting, testified that her life was spared “I have to. I have to,” Sheppard recounted Roof saying during the attack. “You’re raping our women and taking over the nation.”
The original trial was stalled for weeks for another private competency meeting to decide if Roof was competent to stand trial. Gergel allowed the trial to commence following two days of testimony about Roof’s mental health.
While typical defense attorneys call witnesses to speak about defendant’s state of mind before, during, and even after a crime in efforts to spare their client’s life, Roof isn’t expected to call any witnesses or submit evidence during sentencing.
Jurors are expected to return to court on Wednesday.