What’s the best way to follow up a mental competency hearing that finds you able to stand trial? Do something totally crazy like deciding to represent yourself at your own trial.
But that’s what Dylann Roof, the man charged with killing nine parishioners at a black church in Charleston in June of 2015, will be doing as his case heads to trial.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel told Roof he felt the decision was “strategically unwise,” but allowed the request to go through. Roof’s attorneys will act as stand-by counsel, which he’ll definitely need considering the uphill effort he’s walking into.
Roof faces a total of 33 charges, which include hate crimes as well as murder:
Roof is charged in federal court with hate crimes, obstruction of religion and other counts in connection with the June 17, 2015, attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
At Roof’s competency hearing, Gergel heard testimony from psychologist James Ballenger and four other unnamed witnesses and reviewed sworn statements from three others, the judge wrote in his order.
Roof also has already been found competent in state court, where prosecutors plan a second death penalty trial on nine counts of murder.
Trials where the defendant represents himself rarely goes well and is typically warned against, as Judge Gergel noted.
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