Criminal Justice

Federal judge allows accused church shooter Dylann Roof to represent himself

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Dylann Roof

Dylann Roof. Photo from the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office.

A federal judge on Monday ruled that accused church shooter Dylann Roof may represent himself at his hate crimes trial.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said Roof’s decision is “strategically unwise” but he is competent to make it, report the Post and Courier, the New York Times, the Associated Press and CNN.

Roof’s lawyer, David Bruck, will serve as stand-by counsel. Gergel ruled after finding last week that Roof, 22, was competent to stand trial.

Roof, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, is accused of shooting and killing nine black worshipers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Roof is also facing nine counts of murder in a state death-penalty case.

Roof had offered to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life in prison, but federal prosecutors rejected the offer.

Gergel did not allow reporters to attend Roof’s competency hearing and did not release a transcript of the proceeding. Gergel’s competency order did not state the reasons for the judge’s decision. Gergel said he closed the hearing because Roof had made statements to a psychologist that could taint the jury pool.

Related articles: “Lawyers for alleged church-shooter Dylann Roof argue death penalty is unconstitutional” “Prosecutor blasts federal court for scheduling hate crimes trial of Dylann Roof before state trial”

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