Convicted Charleston church mass killer Dylann Roof "may lack the mental capacity" to be his own lawyer in the upcoming punishment phase of his death penalty trial, Roof's attorneys said in a new request to the judge.
The lawyer, David Bruck, expressed such concerns in asking for a week-long delay of a hearing meant to determine whether Roof is competent to represent himself in the penalty phase next week.
Lawyers involved with Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof have asked a judge to delay a competency hearing in order to review a mental health evaluation scheduled for this weekend ahead of his sentencing for the massacre a year ago.
He expects to rule Monday on whether Roof is mentally competent to proceed with the penalty phase of his trial.
Roof's lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel on Thursday to delay a hearing scheduled for January 2 to determine if the convicted shooter is competent for his sentencing trial, which is scheduled to start the next morning.
Dylann Roof to have new competency exam before sentencing
Dylann Roof's standby counsel asked for the hearing scheduled for Monday to be pushed back one week.
The hearing is likely to be closed to the public and witnesses as was a similar hearing before the guilty portion of Roof's trial began. Gergel's order states the court-appointed doctor will conduct the evaluation over New Year's weekend at the Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston County where Roof is being held.
Roof was charged with 33 counts of federal violations, including a bevy of hate crimes, after he opened fire in the Emanuel AME Church in June 2015.
While Bruck and other top-flight lawyers defended him during the guilt phase, Roof reiterated this week that the team wouldn't present a mitigation case for him for sentencing. "But when the government asks for the death penalty, there arises a special need (for) accuracy that can slow and delay the legal process". Instead, Roof intends to make an opening statement but to not call any witnesses or give any evidence favoring a jury's decision of life over death. Prosecutors say the judge should only provide such an instruction if the jury returns and states it actually is deadlocked.
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