The federal judge in accused Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof’s trial has delayed jury selection for another two weeks, citing new questions about Roof’s competency to stand trial.
In his order Tuesday, District Judge Richard Gergel stated federal law requires he seek the competency evaluation and hold a hearing. The order is almost certainly in answer to a sealed motion filed by defense attorneys on Sunday. Jury selection in the case was to begin Monday, but Gergel temporarily delayed the process until he could meet privately with Roof’s lawyers.
Tuesday’s order pushes jury selection back until Nov. 21, if it even occurs at all. Gergel plans to hold a competency hearing on November 16 and make a ruling on Roof’s competency within two days.
“The Court is mindful that this delay in jury selection may be disappointing to some, but it is the Court’s duty to conduct a fair trial and follow procedures which protect the legal rights of the Defendant,” the order states. “Under the present circumstances, the Court finds this brief delay in jury selection to serve the ends of justice.”
The order does not give specifics on why Roof’s competency was being called into question. Defense attorneys had not previously raised the issue.
Roof faces 33 federal hate crimes charges for killing nine people at an Emanuel AME Church Bible study on June 17, 2015.