The man accused of fatally shooting nine African-American people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015 will be allowed to represent himself in court, CNN’s South Carolina affiliates reported on Monday.
Dylann Roof, 22, was deemed mentally competent to stand trial for hate crimes in South Carolina, US District Judge Richard Gergel ruled last week.
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,” according to Gergel’s ruling.
Roof, who faces 33 federal charges and the death penalty, was an avowed racist at the time of the attack. A disturbing website registered to Roof – with a racist manifesto and dozens of photos of his posing with guns and the Confederate battle flag – was found shortly after the massacre occurred.
Jury selection for Roof’s trial was delayed after his defense attorneys called for a competency test. It will resume Monday. Since Roof is representing himself, he is allowed to reject prospective jurors he thinks won’t give him a fair trial.
He reportedly confessed to law-enforcement officials shortly after he was arrested that he ultimately decided he “had to go through with his mission.”