CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on whether a hearing should be closed before Dylann Roof's trial (all times local):
The federal judge overseeing Dylann Roof's death penalty trial gave the families of the nine black worshippers he is charged with killing at a Charleston church an extraordinary chance to air their concerns.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel held a hearing Thursday to give anyone a chance to object to his ruling closing Roof's competency hearing next week.
But he didn't restrict what the eight family members of victims or the pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church could say.
Some relatives talked about how the trial delays hurt them. Others say it will be hard to deal with the trial in December as Christmas neared. They all asked for Monday's competency hearing to be open.
Gergel says he is moved by their pain. But he says the hearing will remain closed.
A federal judge will hear arguments on whether he should change his mind and open to the public a hearing on whether Dylann Roof is competent to stand trial for killing nine black worshippers in a Charleston church.
Judge Richard Gergel will hear from lawyers hired by The Associated Press and other media outlets at 1 p.m. Thursday.
Gergel ruled Wednesday that Roof's competency hearing next week should be closed because statements from Roof and other evidence from the hearing could prevent potential jurors from giving him a fair trial.
Roof's attorneys questioned his ability to help them at his death penalty trial on the eve of jury selection earlier this month.
Gergel has tentatively ruled he'll begin jury selection Nov. 28 if Roof is found competent.