A SC judge has ordered Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof to undergo another competency evaluation before he is sentenced, the Charleston federal courthouse announced Thursday.
Roof's lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel on Thursday to delay a hearing scheduled for January 2 to determine if the convicted shooter is competent for his sentencing trial, which is scheduled to start the next morning.
Roof is now acting as his own lawyer after letting go of his defense attorneys after a jury convicted him of 33 counts of hate crimes and obstruction of justice earlier this month.
The hearing is likely to be closed to the public and witnesses as was a similar hearing before the guilty portion of Roof's trial began.
Also Thursday, prosecutors objected to the judge's plan to tell jurors if they don't reach a unanimous decision to sentence Roof to death, then he will sentence Roof to life in prison without the possibility for release.
"This defendant's announcement that he will not defend himself against the death penalty - following a government presentation that is expected to involve more than 38 additional witnesses and hundreds more exhibits - raises in especially stark fashion the question of whether the defendant is actually unable to defend himself", wrote Bruck.
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Gergel's order said Roof will be evaluated over the weekend at the Charleston County jail in North Charleston and that a ruling on the inmate's competency will come no later than Monday.
But Bruck called such time constraint "unreasonable", asking for a one-week continuance of the competency hearing while sympathizing "with everyone's desire to complete these painful legal proceedings as soon as possible".
In court documents filed later Thursday, the attorneys said they recognize the delay request could be viewed "as a 'tactic.' It is not".
"As everyone does, we regret this situation". Gergel has ruled that Roof has the right to be his own lawyer and choose whatever defense strategy his selects.
Gergel told Roof to talk to his grandfather, who is a lawyer, and other family members one last time.
The sentencing phase will determine whether he will get the death penalty or life in prison.