Roof murdered nine black people at a historic black church.
Last summer, Dylann Roof opened fire at the historic Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, murdering nine black people during a meeting. The court started jury selection this month, but U.S. Distric Judge Richard Mark Gergel stopped the process when Roof and his defense team filed a motion “concerning the young man’s competency to stand trial.”
A psychiatrist examined Roof and presented the findings to Judge Gergel, who released his decision today:
After carefully considering the record before the Court, the relevant legal standards, and the arguments of counsel, the Court now finds and concludes that the Defendant is competent to stand trial.
The Court is filing under seal Findings of fact and Conclusions of Law regarding the issue of competency simultaneous with the issuance of this order. The Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law have been sealed based upon the Court’s determination that the public disclosure of that document at this time would prejudice Defendant’s rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and place in jeopardy the Defendant’s right to select a fair and impartial jury and to a fair trial.
Judge Gergel “listened for 45 minutes as members of the victims’ families and media representatives lodged objections to the closure.” None of them changed his mind.
Jury selection will continue on Monday, November 28.
Roof faces numerous charges:
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.
“We will absolutely want him to have the death penalty,” Haley told NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie on “Today,” adding that there is only one person to blame for the shooting at Emanuel AME Church on Wednesday night. “A person filled with hate,” she added.
“We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms,” Felicia Sanders told Dylann Roof, the suspect in a massacre that officials said was racially motivated. She was in the room when the gunman fatally shot nine people, including her son, Tywanza, and Ms. Sanders survived by pretending to be dead.
“You have killed some of the most beautiful people that I know,” she said. “Every fiber in my body hurts, and I’ll never be the same. Tywanza Sanders was my son, but Tywanza was my hero.”
But like some of the others, she added, “May God have mercy on you.”
The daughter of another victim, Ethel Lance, her voice choked with sobs, said: “I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you,” the woman said. “And have mercy on your soul. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people, but God forgive you, and I forgive you.”
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