Published: Sun, January 01, 2017
Health Care | By Gwendolyn Kim

Dylann Roof plans no witnesses or evidence in penalty phase

Dylann Roof plans no witnesses or evidence in penalty phase

Convicted Charleston church mass killer Dylann Roof "may lack the mental capacity" to be his own lawyer in the upcoming punishment phase of his death penalty trial, Roof's attorneys said in a new request to the judge.

Roof's lead attorney, David Bruck, filed a motion to hold another hearing on whether the 22-year-old is competent.

Roof's lawyers say they think he got rid of them because they wanted to present what Roof thought was embarrassing evidence seeking to get the same jury to spare his life.

- A judge ordered another competency exam for Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, who faces the death penalty for killing nine black parishioners previous year.

Roof's lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel on Thursday to delay a hearing scheduled for January 2 to determine if the convicted shooter is competent for his sentencing trial, which is scheduled to start the next morning.

Last month, Gergel ruled that Roof was competent to stand trial.

In court Wednesday, Gergel told Roof he would have until proceedings start Tuesday to change his mind about a lawyer, a decision the convicted killer said he would discuss with his family and lawyers over the weekend.

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In the order, Gergel announced his appointment of James Ballenger, a Charleston-based forensic psychologist, to conduct a competency evaluation on Roof over the New Year's holiday weekend.

"Pending a public hearing Monday morning, the judge said he will decide whether to close the hearing to [Roof's] right to a fair trial and right to self-represent".

Gergel allowed Roof to represent himself in pre-trial hearings after he dismissed his attorneys following a competency hearing determining the killer was aware of the crimes he was charged with and court proceedings around him.

Jurors on December 15 found Roof, a 22-year-old avowed white supremacist, guilty of 33 charges of federal hate crimes resulting in death, obstruction of religion and firearms violations stemming from the shooting deaths of nine people attending a Bible study at a historic black church.

His lawyers have challenged the federal death penalty.

The judge said prosecutors have submitted the names of 38 potential witnesses.

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