A judge has granted Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who massacred nine African-Americans at a historically black church in Charleston, to act as his own attorney in the trial.
The Associated Press reports U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel approved the 23-year-old’s request on Monday (Nov. 28) against his lawyer’s advice. Calling the decision “unwise,” Gergel also allowed Roof’s lawyer’s to stand by as counsel throughout the trial. “I do find defendant has the personal capacity to self-representation,” Judge Gergel said, The Post & Courier states. He added, “It is a decision you have the right to make.”
In addition to having a say in jury selection, Roof will be able to question witnesses. Roof allegedly opened fire on a group of parishioners at the historically Mother Emanuel AME Church in June 2015. Nine people died and three survived. He later confessed through an online manifesto to the shooting in hopes to ignite a race war.
Jury selection will continue today. Roof is facing 33 charges, including hate crime charges and 24 civil rights violations. Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case. They also rejected his request for a life prison sentence if he pleaded guilty to the charges. Gergel made the decision on Friday (Nov. 25) that Roof was mentally competent to stand trial.