Charleston, S.C. (WCBD) – After a 3-week delay, admitted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, asks to represent himself in court. It was just this past Friday that Roof was found mentally fit for trial.
The jury selection restarts today. The jury pool is just under 500 people.
The selection process was halted Nov. 7 after lawyers for Dylann Roof questioned his ability to understand the case against him. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel’s ruling last week cleared the way for Monday’s process to begin.
In court Monday, Roof wore a striped jail jumpsuit and fidgeted with a paper on the desk before asking to represent himself.
Roof, 22, is charged with counts including hate crimes and obstruction of religion in connection with the June 17, 2015, attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. He faces a possible death sentence if convicted.
Beginning Monday, 516 potential jurors report to the courthouse to be individually questioned by the judge. When 70 qualified jurors are picked, attorneys can use strikes to dismiss those they don’t want, until 12 jurors and six alternates are seated.
We talked to Sharon Risher whose mother Ethel Lance was one of the nine people murdered last year. Risher said learning the news that her mother’s killer was fit to stand trial was “like a big sigh of relief.”
Judge Gergel held a two day closed mental competency hearing where he heard from expert witnesses testifying on Roof’s mental competency.
Roof’s defense attorneys and the federal prosecutors all attended the hearing.