WASHINGTON, January 2, 2017 – Dylann Roof, who was convicted in the 2015 attack on a Charleston church, was declared competent and will now represent himself during the sentencing phase of his trial. Roof is facing the death penalty.
District Judge Richard Gergel delivered his ruling after testimony was given by forensic psychiatrist James Ballenger met with Roof over the weekend for five hours. Gergel’s decision did not come as a surprise to many legal experts after he declared that Roof did not meet the legal standard to be deemed incompetent.
The sentencing will begin Wednesday with Dylann Roof delivering a statement but will not call witnesses or present any evidence to the jury who will decide whether he receives life in prison or the death penalty. Last month, Roof was found guilty on 33 counts, with 18 that carry the death penalty.
Prosecutors portray Roof as a white supremacist through the use of his journal, online manifesto and a taped confession to the F.B.I. Prosecutors will argue their case for the death penalty using the same evidence. Prosecutors will call 40 people to the stand, most of them are family members of the victims.
Dylann Roof will have a standby defense team. A psychiatrist who has evaluated many criminals including the “Unabomber” and Zacarias Moussaoui and now says that Roof displays signs of schizophrenia spectrum disorder.
During the sentencing phase, Roof will not be allowed to approach the jury, the witness stand, or the judge’s bench. Roof will deliver opening and closing statements from a lectern. Roof has been given until Tuesday to reverse his decision on representing himself.
Judge Gergel has continued to advise Roof to rehire his former attorneys. Many are expecting Roof’s sentence to be appealed based on his mental health state.
Roof faces the death penalty during the state trial that will take place next month.