Tags: dylann roof | competent | death penalty

Dylann Roof Ruled Competent to Face Death Penalty Hearing Alone

Image: Dylann Roof Ruled Competent to Face Death Penalty Hearing Alone

In this June 18, 2015 file photo, Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

By    |   Tuesday, 03 Jan 2017 11:38 AM

Dylann Roof is competent to face his death penalty hearing alone, a federal judge ruled Monday, opening the door for the 22-year-old white supremacist to act in his own defense starting Wednesday.

Roof was found guilty in December on 33 federal hate crime counts connected with the shooting deaths of nine people and the attempted killings of three others in the basement of Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015, according to National Public Radio.

Roof's defense team, which represented him during the guilt phase of the trial, tried to get their client ruled incompetent to represent himself in the sentencing portion of the case, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel, though, ruled that Roof was competent Monday after a daylong hearing that centered around a weekend psychiatric evaluation of Roof at the Charleston County Jail, the Post and Courier reported.

Dr. James Ballenger, a Charleston-based forensic psychiatrist and a former chairman of the Medical University of South Carolina's Department of Psychiatry, met twice with Roof during the New Year's holiday weekend and concluded that Roof "remained competent to stand trial and to self-represent," Gergel said in his ruling, according to the Citizen-Times.

The Post and Courier said that it was the second time in six weeks that Roof was ruled competent to stand trial after his defense team continued to question his psychiatric state.

The Citizen-Times reported that prosecutors are expecting to call nearly 40 people to testify during the sentencing phase of the trial. Most of those testifying include family members of the victims. The lead FBI agent is also expected to take the stand again, according to the Citizen-Times.

Under Gergel's court order, Roof will not be allowed to approach the jury, the witness stand, or the bench, reported the Citizen-Times. Roof and prosecutors will be allowed to give opening and closing statements from a lectern, noted the newspaper.

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Dylann Roof is competent to face his death penalty hearing alone, a federal judge ruled Monday, opening the door for the 22-year-old white supremacist to act in his own defense starting Wednesday.
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Tuesday, 03 Jan 2017 11:38 AM
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