Citing the need for a “competency” evaluation of alleged Charleston church killer Dylann Roof, U.S. Judge Richard Gergel on Tuesday delayed jury selection in Roof’s upcoming death penalty trial until Nov. 21.
On Monday, Gergel held a secret hearing for Roof, during which his lawyers apparently brought the competency issue to Gergel’s attention.
In his Tuesday order, Gergel said he would hold a hearing on Roof’s competency on Nov. 16 and issue an order on or before Nov. 18.
Gergel said he was taking the step to “protect the legal rights” of the defendant, and federal law requires him to hold a hearing and make a ruling on competency before the trial can proceed.
The delay makes it likely that Roof’s trial, already expected to last until mid-December, will continue into January.