Dylann Roof, the man who allegedly killed nine African-American parishioners in Charleston, S.C., last year, has been ordered to undergo another competency evaluation by a federal judge hearing his case.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel issued the order, writing that he expects a report based on that evaluation to be delivered to him on Nov. 14. He will hold a hearing two days later and rule on Roof’s competency on or before Nov. 18. Jury selection has been suspended until Nov. 21.
“The Court is mindful that this delay in jury selection may be disappointing to some, but it is the Court’s duty to conduct a fair trial and follow procedures which protect the legal rights of the Defendant,” wrote Gergel. “Under the present circumstances, the Court finds this brief delay in jury selection to serve the ends of justice.”
Roof faces 33 counts of hate crimes and other charges related to the killings at a Bible study meeting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015. He allegedly attacked after sitting in the gathering for almost an hour. Authorities say he left three people unharmed so that they could report on what happened.
Gergel issued his order a day after holding a closed-door hearing with Roof and his defense attorneys to consider a motion made by those lawyers. The text of the motion is under seal. Gergel said in a memo that he held the secret hearing “to protect the attorney-client privilege and the constitutional rights of Defendant.”
Roof’s lawyers offered their client’s guilty plea in exchange for a life sentence, but it was rejected by federal prosecutors seeking the death penalty.
South Carolina prosecutors also are preparing to try Roof on nine murder counts after his federal trial.