Dylann Roof to act as own attorney in church shooting trial - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Dylann Roof to act as own attorney in church shooting trial

Posted: Updated:
Roof's decision to be his own attorney followed a three-week psychological exam and a hearing to determine his competence to stand trial. Roof's decision to be his own attorney followed a three-week psychological exam and a hearing to determine his competence to stand trial.
CHARLESTON, S.C. -

A judge has allowed the white man accused of fatally shooting nine black parishioners in a Charleston church last year to defend himself as jury selection continues.
    
U.S District Judge Richard Gergel on Monday reluctantly approved what he called Roof's "unwise" request. Roof, 22, is charged with hate crimes, obstruction of religion and other counts in the June 17, 2015, shootings at Emanuel AME Church. It's the first of two death-penalty trials Roof faces stemming from the shootings. A look at what the coming weeks will bring:
    
___
    
ACTING AS HIS OWN LAWYER
    
Roof's decision to be his own attorney followed a three-week psychological exam and a hearing to determine his competence to stand trial. It also came just before the individual questioning of jurors was set to begin.
    
Gergel ruled Roof competent on Friday, leaving him no choice under the U.S. Constitution but to let Roof follow his wishes to defend himself.
    
After Gergel made his decision, noted death-penalty lawyer David Bruck slid over and let Roof sit in the lead chair at the defense table. He and other defense lawyers are available if Roof has questions.
    
Roof consulted Bruck a few times as the first jurors were questioned Monday, objecting only once to say he was worried about a potential juror's comment that the crime was perhaps worse than others because it happened in a church.
    
___
    
LENGTHY JURY SELECTION
    
Three thousand potential jurors received summonses to report to the Charleston Federal Courthouse in September. Preliminary screenings whittled that number down to 748, and a review of potential juror questionnaires further reduced the pool to 516.  Starting Monday, they began to return to the courthouse in small groups to be questioned individually by the judge.
    
When 70 qualified jurors are picked, prosecutors and Roof can use strikes to dismiss those they don't want, until 12 jurors and six alternates are seated.
    
___
    
A LENGTHY TRIAL
    
The trial is expected to run into January with a break over Christmas. It will be in two phases: the first to decide Roof's guilt or innocence and, if he is convicted, a second to determine if he should be sentenced to life in prison or death.
    
The trial last year of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev took about two months for jury selection, with weather and other delays. The guilt and sentencing phases took almost nine weeks.
    
___
    
FOCUS ON SENTENCING
    
The focus of the trial is expected to be on the sentencing phase. Before they stepped aside, defense attorneys said numerous times during earlier hearings that Roof was willing to plead guilty if the death penalty was taken off the table. Government prosecutors pursuing the death penalty say Roof talked of starting a race war and posed with the Confederate battle flag before the killings.
    
___
    
ANOTHER TRIAL NEXT YEAR
    
Roof faces a second death-penalty trial early next year in state court, where he faces nine counts of murder. A state judge is ordering 600 prospective jurors to report to the Charleston County Courthouse on Jan. 17 for initial screening. His order says the trial will begin on or after Jan. 30. It's not clear when the federal case will wrap up. For now, Roof has attorneys representing him in the state case.
    
___
    
CHARLESTON IN THE SPOTLIGHT
    
Taking place simultaneously and just across the street from jury selection in the Roof case is testimony in the trial of Michael Slager. The white former North Charleston police officer faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of murder in the shooting death of Walter Scott, a black man who was shot in the back as he fled from a traffic stop. Community leaders have urged residents to show unity and refrain from violence as the cases are being heard.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 22-year-old Sandpoint man dies in Clayton 395 crash

    22-year-old Sandpoint man dies in Clayton 395 crash

    Saturday, July 21 2018 1:58 AM EDT2018-07-21 05:58:53 GMT

    STEVENS COUNTY, Wash. - Washington State Patrols responded to a fatal crash in Stevens County Friday evening. On SR-395 in Clayton near Mile Post 185, a vehicle crossed the center line and crashed head on with another car, killing the driver. The causing driver who was transported to the hospital is in custody for vehicular homicide. There were no other occupants of either vehicle. 

    >>

    STEVENS COUNTY, Wash. - Washington State Patrols responded to a fatal crash in Stevens County Friday evening. On SR-395 in Clayton near Mile Post 185, a vehicle crossed the center line and crashed head on with another car, killing the driver. The causing driver who was transported to the hospital is in custody for vehicular homicide. There were no other occupants of either vehicle. 

    >>
  • Amazon.com to bring more than 1,500 jobs to Spokane

    Amazon.com to bring more than 1,500 jobs to Spokane

    Friday, July 20 2018 8:37 PM EDT2018-07-21 00:37:29 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Seattle-based Amazon.com is opening a fulfillment center in Spokane, promising more than 1,500 full-time jobs.    The company announced on Friday that it was opening its first fulfillment center in eastern Washington.    The 600,000-square foot center will be built near the Spokane International Airport.

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Seattle-based Amazon.com is opening a fulfillment center in Spokane, promising more than 1,500 full-time jobs.    The company announced on Friday that it was opening its first fulfillment center in eastern Washington.    The 600,000-square foot center will be built near the Spokane International Airport.

    >>
  • Court docs: Kootenai Behavioral Health therapist charged with rape, abuse of underage patient

    Court docs: Kootenai Behavioral Health therapist charged with rape, abuse of underage patient

    Saturday, July 21 2018 1:02 AM EDT2018-07-21 05:02:56 GMT

    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - A therapist at Kootenai Behavior Health is accused of having sex with an underage patient "hundreds of times" according to court documents. He's been charged with rape and sexual abuse, and is currently on administrative leave from the hospital during the investigation.

    >>

    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - A therapist at Kootenai Behavior Health is accused of having sex with an underage patient "hundreds of times" according to court documents. He's been charged with rape and sexual abuse, and is currently on administrative leave from the hospital during the investigation.

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Man suspected in LA standoff double shooting

    Man suspected in LA standoff double shooting

    Saturday, July 21 2018 8:21 PM EDT2018-07-22 00:21:54 GMT

    LOS ANGELES (AP) - Police believe a man involved in a standoff with officers at a Los Angeles supermarket shot his grandmother and girlfriend before firing at officers during a pursuit, then crashing outside the supermarket and running inside the store. Officer Mike Lopez, a police spokesman, says the man had fled from the scene after the Saturday afternoon shooting in South Los Angeles. 

    >>

    LOS ANGELES (AP) - Police believe a man involved in a standoff with officers at a Los Angeles supermarket shot his grandmother and girlfriend before firing at officers during a pursuit, then crashing outside the supermarket and running inside the store. Officer Mike Lopez, a police spokesman, says the man had fled from the scene after the Saturday afternoon shooting in South Los Angeles. 

    >>
  • Buckshot and L Road fires in Mattawa both nearing containment

    Buckshot and L Road fires in Mattawa both nearing containment

    Saturday, July 21 2018 7:37 PM EDT2018-07-21 23:37:00 GMT

    MATTAWA, Wash. - The Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team says the Buckshot fire is now 93 percent contained Saturday afternoon. The Road L fire near the Vernita bridge is now 75 percent contained.

    >>

    MATTAWA, Wash. - The Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team says the Buckshot fire is now 93 percent contained Saturday afternoon. The Road L fire near the Vernita bridge is now 75 percent contained.

    >>
  • Spokane PD arrests convicted felon downtown

    Spokane PD arrests convicted felon downtown

    Saturday, July 21 2018 7:16 PM EDT2018-07-21 23:16:11 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police arrested a convicted felon who had multiple stolen possessions near a downtown motel. Downtown Precinct Officers were conducting foot patrol in a high drug activity area, when they observed a man with n active Felony warrant for his arrest near the Downtowner motel on S Washington. Justin Dustin was immediately contacted by police. He tried to discard his backpack and broke a glass window inside the motel in the process.

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police arrested a convicted felon who had multiple stolen possessions near a downtown motel. Downtown Precinct Officers were conducting foot patrol in a high drug activity area, when they observed a man with n active Felony warrant for his arrest near the Downtowner motel on S Washington. Justin Dustin was immediately contacted by police. He tried to discard his backpack and broke a glass window inside the motel in the process.

    >>