Dylann Roof Wants His Lawyers Back to Begin Trial

The white man charged in the shooting deaths of nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church asked a judge on Sunday if he could have his defense team back, at least temporarily.

In a handwritten request, the defendant, Dylann S. Roof, asked Judge Richard M. Gergel of Federal District Court to return his defense team for the guilt phase of his federal death penalty trial, which is scheduled to begin in Charleston within days.

“I would like to ask if my lawyers can represent me for the guilt phase of the trial only,” Mr. Roof wrote. “Can you let me have them back for the guilt phase, and then let me represent myself for the sentencing phase of the trial? If you would allow that, then that is what I would like to do.”

Mr. Roof, 22, faces dozens of federal charges, including hate crimes and obstruction of the practice of religion, for the June 2015 killings at the end of a Bible study session at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. The police said he hurled racial slurs during the shooting and left three people alive so they could tell the world that the reason for the killings was that he hated black people.

The request comes a week after Judge Gergel allowed Mr. Roof to represent himself, as court convened to begin the process of jury selection. Judge Gergel, who last month found Mr. Roof competent to stand trial, said Mr. Roof had the constitutional right to act as his own lawyer.

Mr. Roof’s former defense team has remained his legal advisers but has sought to play a larger role in his defense, expressing concern last week that Mr. Roof may not present evidence that could sway a jury to spare his life — an omission that could violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Source: New York Times