Dylann Roof: Charleston shooting suspect deemed fit to stand trial for shooting deaths of nine black churchgoers

The 22-year-old is accused of shooting dead nine people in June 2015

Andrew Buncombe
Minneapolis
Friday 25 November 2016 16:05 GMT
Comments
Nine people were killed in June 2015 inside Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church
Nine people were killed in June 2015 inside Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (Andrew Buncombe)

Eighteen months he allegedly walked into a bible study class in an historic black church in Charleston and opened fired on the people assembled, Dylann Roof has been ruled mentally competent to stand trial. If he is found guilty, he could face the death penalty.

A South Carolina judge said the trial of Mr Roof, 22, could proceed after ordering a so-called “competency hearing”, that involved testimony from medical experts and the examination of official documents.

“The test for competency is whether the defendant ‘has a sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding’ and ‘has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him’,” wrote judge Richard Gergel.

Jury selection in the hearing is due to begin next week

“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 Associated Press said that the ruling came after a two-day hearing behind closed doors earlier this week. Mr Gergel refused to make public his reasons for deciding that Mr Roof was fit to proceed with the case, saying that it could prevent him from having a fair trial.

(Reuters)

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

Video of Dylann Roof's arrest

Jury selection in the federal trial is scheduled to resume on Monday, Gergel said.

Mr 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, and nine counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence.

If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

He also 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 2017.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in