Judge Rules Dylann Roof Is Competent To Represent Himself in Trial Sentencing
Monday, January 2, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel declared that Charleston shooter, Dylann Roof is competent to represent himself during his sentencing procedure. The 22-year-old who calmly walked in to Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal and played nine black parishioners was found unanimously guilty of 33 counts, including hate crimes and obstruction of the practice of religion. Now, the court is reconvening to contemplate his punishment.
Already out there with Roof representing himself as his legal counsel, the public perception is that Roof won’t be sentenced to death, yet instead made to live out his sentencing with life imprisonment. According to the Associated Press, prosecutors are going to call up 38 people related to the nine people killed and the three who survived the June 2015 slaughter to make their appeals to the jury.
Meanwhile, Roof has already said that he was not going to call upon any witnesses and present no evidence.
A jury of his peers took less than three hours to return its verdict, and now that they are coming back from holiday break — Dylann Roof is going to take matters into his own hands by being his own defense. An excerpt from the killer’s journal, which was read in court during his trial, revealed that Roof doesn’t believe in psychology, calling it “a Jewish invention” that “does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they don’t.”
He also filed a motion with the judge limiting what prosecutors can introduce.
With no specifics on the evidence Roof is objecting to, Gergel’s order of a competency evaluation of Roof mental state will be closed to the public. The judge has promised to release a transcript after Roof is sentenced. “This is an incredibly sensitive moment in this proceeding,” Gergel said. “We are putting in the hands of 12 people the life and death of a person.”
Judge Gergel ultimately ruled Roof is competent to stand trial and to represent himself at sentencing. Even going so far to allow Roof an extra day to prepare for his case. If he provides evidence it could impact the jury’s opinion between sentencing Roof to the executioner’s chair or life in prison. “The Dylann Roof case is a classic example of the type of problem you can have when an obviously mentally ill or emotionally disturbed defendant is permitted to represent himself,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. “There’s a huge difference in the eyes of a jury between someone they perceive as evil or despicable and someone they perceive as being seriously mentally ill. If you take mental health out of it, you are putting a thumb on the scale of death.”
Dylann Roof also faces nine murder charges in state court, where prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in a trial that will jump off sometime in 2018. Keep in mind that South Carolina’s death chamber hasn’t even been used since 2011, so offering Dylann Roof sweet release might not even be on the table.
H/T: Associated Press