Judge: Defendant competent to stand trial in church shooting - KMOV.com

Judge: Defendant competent to stand trial in church shooting

Posted: Updated:
(Charleston County Sheriff's Office via AP, File) (Charleston County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

By JEFFREY COLLINS
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Dylann Roof is competent to stand trial starting next week in the killing of nine black worshippers at a South Carolina church last year, a federal judge ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel's ruling clears the way for jury selection to restart Monday.

The judge delayed the process to begin narrowing the final jury pool on Nov. 7 when Roof's lawyers suggested he either didn't understand the charges against him or couldn't properly help them with his defense.

Roof, 22, is charged in federal court with hate crime, obstruction of religion and other counts for the June 2015 attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

The decision came three days after Gergel wrapped up a hastily called two-day hearing that was held behind closed doors.

But the exact reasons and any testimony and facts backing Gergel's findings are not known. Defense lawyers have not said what led them to question Roof's competency and the judge sealed his findings for the same reason he took the rare step of only allowing Roof, his lawyers, prosecutors, court officials and witnesses in the hearing - Roof made statements to a psychologist that might not be legal to use at his trial and could taint potential jurors.

Gergel had promised to release a redacted version of his order last week, but instead filed it under seal.

At his competency hearing, Gergel heard testimony from psychologist James Ballenger and four other unnamed witnesses and reviewed sworn statements from three others, the judge wrote in his order. Ballenger completed his psychological review of Roof in just days.

According to police, Roof sat through nearly an hour of prayer and Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church with its pastor and 11 others before pulling a gun from his fanny pack near the end of the class and firing dozens of shots.

Roof hurled racial insults at the six women and three men he's accused of killing and the three people he left alive, authorities said. He said he left the three unharmed so they could tell the world the shootings were because he hated black people.

Roof has already been found competent in state court, where prosecutors plan a second death penalty trial on nine counts of murder.

___

Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/jeffrey-collins

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Watch News 4 Now

Mouse over player for controls · LAUNCH FULL PLAYER

  • NationalMore>>

  • Olympic gymnastics ex-doctor pleads guilty to sex charges

    Olympic gymnastics ex-doctor pleads guilty to sex charges

    Wednesday, November 22 2017 1:51 AM EST2017-11-22 06:51:40 GMT
    Thursday, November 23 2017 8:48 PM EST2017-11-24 01:48:04 GMT

    Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas are among the women who have publicly said they were among the doctor's victims.

    More >

    Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas are among the women who have publicly said they were among the doctor's victims.

    More >
  • Las Vegas pot dispensaries offer Black Friday deals

    Las Vegas pot dispensaries offer Black Friday deals

    Thursday, November 23 2017 3:23 PM EST2017-11-23 20:23:18 GMT
    (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File). FILE - In this April 23, 2017, file photo, large jars of marijuana are on display for sale at the Cali Gold Genetics booth during the High Times Cannabis Cup in San Bernardino, Calif.(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File). FILE - In this April 23, 2017, file photo, large jars of marijuana are on display for sale at the Cali Gold Genetics booth during the High Times Cannabis Cup in San Bernardino, Calif.

    Big-box stores won't be the only ones offering discounts to shoppers in Las Vegas this Black Friday. Marijuana dispensaries are rolling out deals, too.

    More >

    Big-box stores won't be the only ones offering discounts to shoppers in Las Vegas this Black Friday. Marijuana dispensaries are rolling out deals, too.

    More >
  • This Thanksgiving, remember our troops

    This Thanksgiving, remember our troops

    Thursday, November 23 2017 11:27 AM EST2017-11-23 16:27:48 GMT
    In this April 10, 2008 file photo, U.S. soldiers salute during a handover ceremony at the main U.S. base at Bagram north of Kabul, Afghanistan. (Source: AP Photo, File)In this April 10, 2008 file photo, U.S. soldiers salute during a handover ceremony at the main U.S. base at Bagram north of Kabul, Afghanistan. (Source: AP Photo, File)

    This Thanksgiving, it is not enough just to thank our troops for their service. Let's take time to think about them and their families.

    More >

    This Thanksgiving, it is not enough just to thank our troops for their service. Let's take time to think about them and their families.

    More >
Powered by Frankly