Dylann Roof Will Represent Himself

Defense lawyers will be on hand if he asks for help
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2016 9:57 AM CST
Dylann Roof Will Represent Himself
Dylann Roof   (Charleston County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

(Newser) – Dylann Roof may have the chance to question the very people he is accused of shooting when he stands trial for the murders of nine black worshippers at a South Carolina church. Judge Richard Gergel on Monday granted a surprise request from Roof to defend himself against 33 federal charges, with his lawyers serving as "stand-by counsel," reports ABC4. That means his lawyers can offer assistance if Roof asks for it, reports the AP. Roof, who faces the death penalty if convicted, told Gergel he understood the consequences of his decision—which came against the advice of his lawyers—and could file objections and motions and question witnesses on his own.

"I do find defendant has the personal capacity to self-representation," Gergel said, per the Charleston Post and Courier, though he called the move "strategically unwise." Gergel's approval means Roof, 22, may now be able to question the three survivors of the Charleston shooting and their family members. The trial could begin within weeks. Jury selection—interrupted by a competency hearing regarding a new psychiatric evaluation of Roof—resumed Monday. Twenty prospective jurors will be questioned daily from a pool of 512 until 70 remain. That number will then be whittled down to 12 jurors and six alternates. A separate case in state court is to begin in January. (Read more Dylann Roof stories.)

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