The man facing the death penalty for allegedly killing nine black parishioners at a Charleston church strongly opposed a move by his attorney to have his competency evaluated.
A redacted opinion order by U.S. Judge Richard Gergel that was unsealed Wednesday revealed Roof was against his attorneys’ request to delay the trial to determine if he was mentally fit. The order also said Roof’s request to represent himself was not a decision that was “suddenly or rashly made.”
Throughout the order, Gergel said Roof was warned repeatedly that it was “strategically unwise” for him to represent himself. Roof raised the issue at the end of his competency hearing on Nov. 22, according to the order.
“Is there any way that someone could write a document that would take away all responsibility from my lawyers, but still keep them as my lawyers and then they could do whatever I say, but they wouldn’t have any responsibility, and then I could sign it,” asked Roof, according to the order.
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Roof then made the request formally on Sunday. On Monday, he confirmed to the court he wanted to represent himself.
“While repeatedly asking (Roof) to confirm his desire to represent himself, the Court closely observed (Roof’s) demeanor,” the order said. “(Roof) was alert, focused, and confident as he expressed his resolve to represent himself.”
Gergel also said Roof was “cogent and articulate” when he addressed the court on Nov. 7, and added “this defendant has extremely high IQ, there is not a cognitive impairment, and I have observed him communicate with his lawyers.”
Jury selection continued Wednesday in the trial and is slated to start again on Thursday. Roof, a self-described white supremacist from the Columbia area, is accused of driving to Charleston to kill African-Americans to “incite racial tensions across the nation.” Roof is charged with killing nine people, including church pastor state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, and attempting to kill three others at Charleston Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015.