On Friday, a federal judge ruled that Dylann Roof is competent to stand trial for the 2015 church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina. Roof’s attorneys attempted to place a number of obstacles in place on both the federal and state trial court levels, but regardless, he will be tried for nine counts of murder after allegedly storming the historically black Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The ruling comes after U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel initially paused jury selection for the case in order for Roof to undergo an evaluation to gauge his competency. Gergel said in a statement Roof that was competent to stand trial as he did not appear to be suffering from a mental illness that would impact his understanding or participation within the trial:
“The test for competency is whether the defendant ‘has a sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding’ and ‘has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him A defendant must have the ‘capacity to understand the nature and object of the proceedings against him, to consult with counsel, and to assist in preparing his defense.”
The order came after Gergel had examined “voluminous” evidence, which was also based upon the testimony of five witnesses that included Dr. James Ballenger, who had been the court-appointed competency examiner of Roof. Ballenger, a nationally renowned psychiatrist with 45 years of experience under his belt, was the only named witness in the judge’s order. However and even without Ballenger’s sworn testimony, Roof would likely have been held in federal custody until he was eventually deemed competent to stand trial.
(Via USA Today)