Jury selection began on Monday morning.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel found Dylan Roof competent to stand trial for the murder of nine black people at a church in Charleston, S.C., last summer.
Today, the judge has decided that Roof can represent himself in his trial:
Roof made the last-minute request as jury selection was set to begin this morning. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel cautioned Roof against serving as his own attorney, noting his defense team’s considerable legal expertise, but ultimately granted the request. He noted that Roof has a constitutional right to represent himself.
“I do find defendant has the personal capacity to self-representation,” Gergel said. “I continue to believe it is strategically unwise, but it is a decision you have the right to make.”
Roof, garbed in a striped grey-and-white jail uniform, answered the judge’s questions with “yes, sir” in a quiet, raspy voice. After Gergel’s ruling, he smiled slightly as he returned to his defense table. He then sat in the front-and-center seat as his lead lawyer, renowned capital defense attorney David Bruck, scooted over. Roof told the judge that he wanted his attorneys, who will act as “stand-by counsel” now, to sit at the table with him.
The jury selection began on Monday morning.
Roof faces 33 federal charges: nine counts of violating the Hate Crime Act resulting in death; three counts of violating the Hate Crime Act involving an attempt to kill; nine counts of obstruction of exercise of religion resulting in death; three counts of obstruction of exercise of religion involving an attempt to kill and use of a dangerous weapon; nine counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Roof also faces nine counts of murder and other charges in the state court system. His trial in that case is scheduled to start in January.
He tried to plead guilty last week “in exchange for a life sentence, but prosecutors refused the deal.” He could receive the death penalty if found guilty.DONATE
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