A federal judge has ruled Dylann Roof competent to stand trial for the murders of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church members in South Carolina last year.
Roof is charged with hate crimes, obstruction of religion and other counts in connection with the June 2015 church attack that claimed the lives of nine Black parishioners at the historic Black church in. The indictment accuses Roof of wanting “to increase racial tensions across the nation” by attacking the church and seeking “retribution for perceived wrongs he believed African Americans had committed against white people,” according to court documents.
Handed down on Friday, Judge Richard Gergel’s decision clears the way for jury selection to restart on Monday after weeks of delay, according to Chicago Tribune reports. It is not clear why Roof’s lawyers questioned his fitness to stand trial.
Roof indicated early on that he was willing to enter a guilty plea in exchange for serving life in prison, but prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the 33 federal charges, which include nine counts of hate crimes resulting in death and nine counts of murder.
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Roof also has already been found competent in state court, where prosecutors plan another death penalty trial on nine counts of murder. Roof sat through an hour of prayer and Bible study at the church last June, before opening fire with dozens of fatal shots targeting the unsuspecting church goers.
May justice be served.