Charleston church shooting suspect found competent to stand trial

Dylann Roof
FILE - In this June 19, 2015 file photo, Dylann Storm Roof appears via video before a judge, in Charleston, S.C., Friday, June 19, 2015. Roof is accused of killing nine people inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. (Centralized Bond Hearing Court via AP)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WSPA) – A judge has declared Dylann Roof, the white man charged with killing nine black parishioners at a Charleston church, competent to stand trial.

The ruling was released Friday morning by U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel in Charleston, who held a two-day hearing behind closed doors earlier this week. The hearing was needed after Roof’s attorneys questioned earlier this month whether he could help them on the eve of jury selection in his death penalty trial.

Jury selection begins Monday, Nov. 28.

Gergel sealed his reasons for finding Roof competent, saying that information could keep him from having a fair trial.

The 22-year-old white man is charged in federal court with hate crime, obstruction of religion and other counts for the deadly June 2015 attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

He also faces the death penalty if found guilty of murder in state court. The state trial will begin early next year.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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