Judge Orders Psych Evaluation for Church Gunman

(CN) – A federal judge on Thursday ordered a new competency exam for convicted Charleston church gunman Dylann Roof, who faced the death penalty for killing nine black members of the Emanuel AME Church in 2015.

In a two-page order, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said he ordered the psychiatric evaluation — the second Roof has undergone since his murder trial began a month ago — out of “an abundance of caution” after Roof’s standby counsel filed a sealed motion again questioning his mental ability to stand trial.

A jury found Roof guilty on December 15 on all 33 federal counts he faced, including murder, assault, hate crimes and obstruction of religion. The second face of his trial, which will determine whether he is sentenced to death or spends the rest of his life in prison, is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Roof’s standby attorneys represented him during the guilt phase of his trial, but the gunman intends to represent himself during the next stage of the trial.

During a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, Roof told Gergel that he will not present witnesses or evidence in a bid to save his own life.

 

Gergel’s order said Roof will be evaluated over the weekend at the Charleston County jail in North Charleston and that a ruling on the inmate’s competency will come no later than Monday.

Also Thursday, prosecutors objected to the judge’s plan to tell jurors if they don’t reach a unanimous decision to sentence Roof to death, then he will sentence Roof to life in prison without the possibility for release.