Dylann Roof is competent to proceed with the death penalty phase of his federal hate crime trial over the 2015 murders of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, a judge ruled Monday.
The opinion came after more than seven hours of testimony from the court-appointed psychologist who evaluated Roof over the New Year's holiday weekend.
"After fully considering all of the evidence presented, the Court ruled from the bench that [Roof] remains competent to stand trial and to self-represent," U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel wrote in a the brief opinion issued by the court.
Roof, who was found guilty Dec. 15 on all 33 charges that he targeted and killed members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church because of their race, will represent himself when the sentencing trial begins Wednesday. The trial had originally been scheduled to begin Tuesday, but Gergel said he would allow Roof an additional day to prepare for the proceedings, according to the court order obtained by Mic.
The jurors who found him guilty will be called back to decide whether Roof should receive the death penalty or life in prison.
Gergel wrote in a Dec. 29 court order that he allowed the competency hearing out of "an abundance of caution," and to protect Roof's right to a fair trial and self-represent. He had previously ruled Roof competent for the guilty phase of the trial, after a November psychiatric evaluation found the 22-year-old has a high IQ and does not have a cognitive impairment.
At a pre-sentencing hearing in Charleston on Dec. 28, Roof said he would not call any witnesses or present evidence during the proceedings. But he planned to give an opening statement on his own behalf, Roof said.