Dylann Roof, accused of fatally shooting nine black worshipers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015, has been declared competent to stand trial. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel announced the decision Friday morning and scheduled jury selection to begin Monday, WIS-TV reported.
"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," Gergel said in a court document filed Friday. A criminal defendant can only be declared not competent for trial if the Court declares the person as "presently suffering from a mental disease or defect" that impacts his or her ability to understand the "nature and consequences" of the legal proceedings against them.
Roof's psychiatric review, ABC News reported, was finished on Nov. 15 before competency hearings on Nov. 21 and 22. Though jury selection was initially set to begin earlier this month, Roof's attorneys motioned to have him analyzed by a doctor to determine his mental state. Roof has been arraigned on 33 federal charges, to which he has pleaded not guilty.
Betty Deas Clark, the pastor of Emanuel AME Church, reflected on the horrific mass shooting to CNN this summer. "It's a shared responsibility," Clark said on the topic of gun safety reform, which again became a divisive issue surrounding Roof's case. "I believe we must deal with gun reform. There's nothing wrong with the right to bear arms. We ought to make sure those who bear arms, they're qualified to do so."
Roof is currently set to stand trial in January 2017.