Judge says Dylann Roof can act as his own attorney

In this June 19, 2015 file photo, Dylann Storm Roof appears via video before a judge, in Charleston, S.C., Friday, June 19, 2015. Roof is accused of killing nine people inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.   (Centralized Bond Hearing Court via AP)
In this June 19, 2015 file photo, Dylann Storm Roof appears via video before a judge, in Charleston, S.C., Friday, June 19, 2015. Roof is accused of killing nine people inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. (Centralized Bond Hearing Court via AP)

Charleston, S.C. (WCBD) – Dylann Roof’s request Monday came against his lawyers’ advice, and U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said he would reluctantly accept the 22-year-old’s “unwise” decision.

Noted death penalty attorney David Bruck then slid over and let Roof take the lead chair. The lawyers can stand by and help Roof if he asks.

Police say Roof hurled racist insults at the six women and three men he’s accused of killing and the three people he left alive in the June 2015 attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Roof on hate crime, obstruction of religion and other charges.

It was just this past Friday that Roof was found mentally fit for trial

The jury selection restarts today.  The jury pool is just under 500 people.

The selection process was halted Nov. 7 after lawyers for Dylann Roof questioned his ability to understand the case against him. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel’s ruling last week cleared the way for Monday’s process to begin.

In court Monday, Roof wore a striped jail jumpsuit and fidgeted with a paper on the desk before asking to represent himself.

Roof, 22, is charged with counts including hate crimes and obstruction of religion in connection with the June 17, 2015, attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. He faces a possible death sentence if convicted.

Beginning Monday, 516 potential jurors report to the courthouse to be individually questioned by the judge. When 70 qualified jurors are picked, attorneys can use strikes to dismiss those they don’t want, until 12 jurors and six alternates are seated.

Judge Gergel held a two day closed mental competency hearing where he heard from expert witnesses testifying on Roof’s mental competency.

Roof’s defense attorneys and the federal prosecutors all attended the hearing.

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