State Trial Attorneys to Get Roof Competency Docs

FILE – In this June 18, 2015 file photo, Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C. The sentencing phase of Roof’s federal trial begins Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Charleston. He could face the death penalty or life in prison. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

(CN) – A federal judge said Tuesday that he will share court documents created during the federal murder trial of Dylann Roof with attorneys preparing for the convicted Charleston church gunman’s state trial.

Roof, 22, was convicted on 33 federal charges in December in the June 17, 2015, shooting at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston that left nine people dead and three others wounded. In January, he was sentenced to death on those charges.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel issued an order stating that documents related to Roof’s competency hearings will be shared under seal with both the state prosecutor and Roof’s court-appointed defense team. The lawyers had filed a joint request for the documents.

In his order, Gergel said “The Court finds that this joint request to be reasonable, promotes efficiency by avoiding
potentially needless repetition of competency proceedings, and furthers the goals of mutual respect and
comity between the state and federal courts.”

“For these reasons, the Court authorizes the Solicitor and state court defense counsel to receive, under seal, copies of all materials provided to Judge Nicholson pursuant to the Court’s January 24, 2017 order. The Court authorizes the prosecution and the defense counsel in the federal action to make the documents listed above available to the state prosecutor and defense counsel,” Gergel said.

The order also state’s that Roof’s competency hearing documents will remain sealed until further notice.

Roof faces 13 state charges, including nine counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, and a weapons charge.

In the meantime, Roof’s attorneys have asked that their client get a new federal trial, arguing prosecutors didn’t have jurisdiction to bring their case against him.

In a Feb. 10 court filing, they claim the government failed prove that Roof’s use of the internet to view and post hate messages, his frequent trips of local highways, and his use of the gun he used in the murders were sufficient enough links to allow the religious obstruction charges that stem from the commerce clause.

The attorneys argue Roof’s crimes and his preparations for them occurred entirely within South Carolina and that his contacts with interstate commerce were merely incidental.

These same arguments were raised during Roof’s trial last fall, but judge Gergel overruled them and allowed the charges to stand.

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