`Last week, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel granted Dylann Roof’s request to represent himself at his trial for murdering nine black people at a church in Charleston, SC, in the summer of 2015. But now Roof wants his lawyers back during the guilt phase:
After a two-sentence formal motion filed by his advisory lawyers, Roof hand-penned a note to the federal judge overseeing his case. In block letters on lined notebook paper, he wrote: “I would like to ask if my lawyers can represent me for the guilt phase of the trial only. Can you let me have them back for the guilt phase, and then let me represent myself for the sentencing phase of the trial?”
Gergel told Roof he may have his lawyers back, but said he cannot “change his mind again.”
Roof’s lawyers have remained on as legal advisors, but pushed for more involvement in the trial. They had concerns “that Mr. Roof may not present evidence that could sway a jury to spare his life – an omission that could violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.”
The lawyers will now “take over for opening statements and the portion of the trial when prosecutors must prove Roof’s guilt.” During the sentencing phase of the trial, Roof will “control over what evidence is presented on his behalf when the time comes for the defense to try to sway jurors to give him life in prison.”
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 “in exchange for a life sentence, but prosecutors refused the deal.” He could receive the death penalty if found guilty.
The jury selection began in November, but Gergel stopped the process after Roof and his defense team filed a motion “concerning the young man’s competency to stand trial.” A psychiatrist examined Roof and presented Gergel with the findings, who then declared Roof competent to stand trial. He decided to seal the psychiatric document under the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.DONATE
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