Judge conducts competency hearing for Dylann Roof before sentencing

  • Judge conducts competency hearing for Dylann Roof before sentencing

Judge conducts competency hearing for Dylann Roof before sentencing

This second competency hearing is scheduled one day ahead of the beginning of the sentencing phase of Roof's trial, where jurors will weigh a sentence of life imprisonment against the death penalty.

A judge has issued an order governing Dylann Roof's movement within the federal courtroom where he'll be acting as his own lawyer during sentencing.

"Closing out this hearing ... is closing out the community from an important step in the process", AP attorney Jay Bender was quoted by AP reporter Meg Kinnard on Twitter as saying early Monday morning. His attorneys told the court new facts have emerged since the last competency hearing, but it is not clear what those facts are. "I'm talking about a whisper becoming a shout", said Gergel, who repeatedly interrupted Bender. The motion was entered one day after Roof said he meant to represent himself during sentencing.

Last week, they again asked Gergel to review Roof's ability to understand the charges against him and the possible punishments after Roof announced he planned to call no witnesses or offer any evidence in the sentencing portion of his trial.

The mental competency hearing on Monday took place behind closed doors, away from the public. He provided the question a few minutes later when he said, "I don't think 10 or so days is worth sequestration".

The judge said the way he sees it he faces two options. "We are putting in the hands of 12 people the life and death of a person".

Judge Gergel says he looked to other high profile cases before making his decision; however, many of them did not have the pervasiveness of social media as a factor. People talked about opening Facebook to see articles on their timeline, driving in the auto and hearing a blurb discussed on the radio and watching prime-time TV when their show was interrupted by a news cut-in pertaining to Roof's trial.

Gergel responded that he is still weighing the issue, complicated by a state death penalty trial expected in January, but once proceedings have concluded, the public will likely have a right to know. Roof told Gergel last week he will make an opening statement but said he has "no plans whatsoever to call witnesses" during the sentencing phase.

He said, "I am sensitive to my jury".

"I think people are afraid that this mentally impaired guy is going to get up and turn it into a circus", said Christopher Adams, a Charleston defense attorney who is not involved in the case. He'll also be sitting in a chair farthest from the jury and victims' family members.

The same jury that convicted him of 33 charges that included hate crimes resulting in death will meet on Wednesday for the penalty phase, where they will decide whether he should be executed.