Judge rules Dylann Roof is competent to face death penalty

Dylann Roof
FILE - This June 18, 2015, file photo, provided by the Charleston County Sheriff's Office shows Dylann Roof. A South Carolina prosecutor said Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, that she will seek the death penalty for Roof, who is charged with killing nine black churchgoers in Charleston. Roof also faces federal charges including hate crimes. Prosecutors in that case have not said if they will pursue the death penalty. (Charleston County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina judge ruled that Dylann Roof is competent to face the death penalty when he goes on trial for killing 9 black men and women at a South Carolina church.

The court announced that the mental competency hearing for Admitted Charleston Church Shooter Dylann Roof is finished. Testimony concluded around 5:30 p.m.

After 2 days of court discussions, the judge and his team had roughly 16 hours worth of testimony to process before the judge ruled Roof competent to stand trial.

On Friday of last week, Judge Gergel also said, if possible, he will release the transcripts from the closed competency hearing with the constitutionally protected information blacked out.

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Charleston, SC—The mental competency hearing for Admitted Charleston Church Shooter Dylann Roof enters day 2. The hearing lasted all day Monday from 9AM to around 6:30PM and picked back up at 9AM on Tuesday. The hearing is closed to the public so there is little information as to what is going on behind closed doors.

We do know that both legal teams are there—Roof’s defense attorneys and the Federal Prosecutors. We also know there are expert witnesses testifying to Roof’s mental competency. Some of those experts are doctors and we know that because the prefix “Dr.” was legible in court documents; however, the specific title is blacked out. The court did not release any information about how many specialists, their areas of expertise, nor if there are any additional experts (not doctors) who testified.

If Federal Judge Richard Gergel finds Roof incompetent, the trial will be postponed indefinitely. If he rules that he is competent to stand trial then it will start with jury selection on November 28th. The judge said he will release his decision as soon as the mental competency hearing is finished. As of Tuesday, they have not said when they anticipate the hearing to be complete.

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