Dylann Roof, the 22-year-old white man who is accused of fatally shooting nine black people last year inside Charleston, South Carolina's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, will represent himself in his federal hate-crimes trial. Roof was declared mentally fit for trial on Friday, and a judge approved Roof for self-representation Monday though advised against it.
Representing himself in court, Roof, who planned to plead guilty if the death penalty had been taken off the table, could have the opportunity to question people who survived the attack.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled Friday that Roof was competent to stand trial and assist in his own defense, and the Post and Courier reported that Roof decided wanted to represent himself as jury selection commenced Monday.
"I do find defendant has the personal capacity to self-representation," the judge said. "I continue to believe it is strategically unwise, but it is a decision you have the right to make." Roof said he wants to keep his attorneys present as "standby counsel" during the trial, according to the Post and Courier, which could last several months. Jury selection alone could take a few weeks.
The Post and Courier reported that the first group of potential jurors for the trial that were brought in for jury selection on Monday were all white. One woman in the group was excused by Gergel after