Dylann Roof read more

Don’t approach the bench

Judge restricts Roof as he represents himself in the penalty phase of his murder trial

Dylann Roof can’t go anywhere near the jury or witnesses during sentencing, judge orders

Dylann Roof is forbidden from approaching the witness stand, the jury, or the bench during the sentencing phase of his murder trial, according to an order issued by a federal judge in South Carolina on Monday afternoon.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel issued the order restricting Roof’s movements inside the courtroom during the lunch break of a second hearing assessing the self-avowed white supremacist’s mental competency.

Roof, who is facing the death penalty for killing nine black churchgoers in June 2015, has chosen to represent himself in this portion of the trial. However, Gergel’s order stipulates that Roof sit in the third seat from the aisle at the defense table, which is usually occupied by standby counsel. This seating arrangement puts him the farthest away from the survivors and family members of the victims of the racially motivated shooting at Charleston’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Should Roof decide to give a document to a witness, the order mandates him to do so via a courtroom staff member.

Roof, 22, told Judge Gergel last month that he plans to make opening and closing statements but will not call witnesses to the stand nor present evidence on his behalf.

The same jurors who found Roof guilty last month of all 33 charges related to the church massacre will tomorrow reconvene to hear arguments for why he should receive the death penalty.

The mental competency hearing on Monday took place behind closed doors, away from the public. Gergel approved the motion requesting a second hearing last week. He ordered the first mental competency exam in November, ahead of jury selection, to determine whether Roof was “suffering from a mental disease or defect  to the extent that he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense.” After a two-day hearing, Roof was found competent.

Read more about Dylann Roof’s second mental competency hearing here: https://news.vice.com/story/dylann-roofs-mental-health-is-being-assessed-again-before-sentencing

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