Court Rules Dylann Roof Can Represent Himself in Charleston Shooting Case

There has been a development in the case against alleged Charleston church shooter, where a judge ruled that Dylann Roof will be allowed to represent himself throughout the criminal trial proceedings. Roof stands accused of killing nine people in the June 2015 incident, and he was previously deemed mentally competent to face the charges against him. The judge will allow Roof to object to potential jurors if he feels they aren’t fit to serve, and jury selection continued November 28, 2016. As the case proceeds to trial on nine counts of murder and other charges, the court will continue to monitor Roof’s ability to represent himself.

Summary of the Facts: Roof opened fire during a prayer meeting at historic Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015, killing nine people including the parish pastor. Local authorities conducted a short manhunt before identifying Roof as the killer, after his father and uncle positively identified him upon seeing security camera photos. He was apprehended the day after the shooting pursuant to a traffic stop.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department opened investigations into the murders as hate crimes soon thereafter: All victims were African-American, while Roof is white. Plus, Roof made certain statements and used racial epithets in the moments leading up to the shootings.

Charges Against the Defendant: Roof was charged with nine counts of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of violent crime on June 19. He was indicted on July 7 on all counts, as well as three additional charges of attempted murder for the three individuals who survived the shooting. Roof’s trial will proceed in state court, beginning on January 17,2017. However, before his trial can go forward, there have been several procedural matters before the court. One notable proceeding was to determine his competency to stand trial, while another was a hearing on his motion to represent himself.

Jury Selection Begins: The jury selection process was already underway by November 7, 2016, but was postponed upon Roof’s motion to defend himself. The presiding judge postponed jury selection to make a ruling on the motion, which was granted on November 28. Twenty jurors have been interviewed, with seven approved and 13 excused. The questioning of jurors has varied, with at least one being asked if a defendant should face the death penalty for killing another person. Another answered a questionnaire by saying that her religion would impact whether she could determine applicability of the death penalty.

Jury selection in the Dylann Roof trial will continue until 70 qualified jurors are identified and able to serve.

There are certain pitfalls to representing yourself in a criminal case, as you may not have the legal background and experience in fighting the charges against you. The consequences can be severe, especially in a San Diego murder case where you could be facing a life sentence or death penalty if convicted. By hiring a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, your chances of a fair and reasonable outcome improve. Please contact a qualified criminal attorney in San Diego to discuss your options if you’re charged with a crime in California.

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