Accused church shooter Dylann Roof requested Sunday that his attorneys represent him through the guilt phase of his death penalty trial.
The motion comes just a week after U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel granted Roof a request to represent himself. The guilt phase of the trial is set to begin on Wednesday.
“Can you you let me have them back for the guilt phase, and then let me represent myself for the sentencing phase of the trial,” wrote Roof in a piece of college-ruled paper. “If you would allow that, then that is what I would like to do.”
Roof requested initially to represent himself through a motion on Nov. 27, and Gergel granted his request on Nov. 28. Gergel repeatedly warned Roof it was “strategically unwise” to represent himself.
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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 Roof may not present evidence that could sway a jury to spare his life - something that could violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
The lawyers said they didn't know why Roof wanted to represent himself but added that other capital defendants have fired their lawyers to avoid having embarrassing evidence revealed, writing that the "22-year-old ninth-grade dropout" might deliberately sabotage his own defense in order to get the death penalty.
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.
There will be a hearing Monday for Roof and prosecutors to discuss pretrial motions, and opening statements are currently scheduled for Wednesday. If Roof's request isn't granted and he continues to represent himself, he'll be making those statements, as well as questioning witnesses at trial. That could include relatives of the shooting victims, some of whom said at Roof's initial court appearance that they forgave him and would pray for him.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.