Dylann Roof, the self-described white supremacist who gunned down members of a Charleston, South Carolina, church last summer, is fit to stand trial.
According to documents obtained by Mic, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled the 22-year-old can stand trial for killing nine Black worshippers at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in June 2015.
“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,’ ” Gergel said. “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 he would seal a report explaining the facts behind his determination. The judge fears sharing information with society could jeopardize Roof’s right to a fair trial, according to CNN.
The update followed the delay in the case’s jury-selection process. Lawyers were set to begin narrowing down more than 500 candidates to 12 members with six substitutes earlier this month. However, Gergel received an immediate notice to solely meet with Roof and the defense team. As a result, a psychiatrist tested Roof and bystanders gave their accounts of the matter at a hearing this week. The jury will be chosen on Monday, Gergel revealed.
Roof faces the death penalty in the shooting, known as the Charleston Massacre. In August, Atlanta Black Star reported his team offered to plead guilty should punishment by death become a non-option. Roof shot and killed nine members of Mother Emanual, a historically Black church. Because of that, his federal charges total 33. They include using a firearm, violating the Hate Crime Act and hindering the freedom of religion.