Dylann Roof, the white 22-year-old suspect connected to the killing of nine Black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., has elected to represent himself during the hate-crime and murder trial. Roof’s race-fueled motivation to enter Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015 and open fire still has the community in emotional shambles.
NBC News reports:
A white man accused of fatally shooting nine black parishioners at a Charleston church last year was allowed to act as his own attorney in his federal death penalty trial Monday.
Dylann Roof’s request came against his lawyers’ advice, and U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said he would reluctantly accept the 22-year-old’s “unwise” decision.
Death penalty attorney David Bruck then slid over and let Roof take the lead chair. The lawyers can stand by and help Roof if he asks.
The development came the same day jury selection resumed in the case. The selection process was halted Nov. 7 after lawyers for Roof questioned his ability to understand the case against him. Judge Gergel’s ruling last week cleared the way for Monday’s process to begin anew.
Roof’s reasons for taking the lead in the case are still unknown, but there is speculation that the shooter will turn the trial into a spectacle in order to champion his racist stances and to make witnesses that he could cross-examine suffer under his gaze.
Roof is facing 33 federal charges, including 12 counts related to violations of the Hate Crime Act.