The Latest: Attorney: Dylann Roof hearing should be open

AP News
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Posted: Dec 30, 2016 2:18 PM

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on another mental evaluation of Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof (all times local):

2 p.m.

An attorney for media outlets including The Associated Press argues that Monday's competency hearing for convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof should be open.

Attorney Jay Bender filed an objection Friday to federal Judge Richard Gergel's proposal to close the hearing, arguing there's no compelling reason to exclude the public.

Bender also represents The State, The Post and Courier, WCSC, WLTX and National Public Radio.

On Thursday, Gergel ordered another psychiatric evaluation of Roof over the weekend. He expects to rule Monday on whether Roof is mentally competent to proceed with the penalty phase of his trial, which will determine whether he is sentenced to death or life in prison. A federal jury convicted him of more than 30 criminal counts earlier this month.

Gergel will consider the objections from Bender and others 30 minutes before the hearing.

Bender notes Gergel said he closed Roof's previous competency hearing to protect his right to a fair trial before jury selection. But the jury has long been empaneled.

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12:30 p.m.

A federal judge has quickly denied a request to delay a competency hearing for the white man facing a possible death sentence in the killing of nine African-Americans at a Charleston church.

Federal Judge Richard Gergel ordered a psychiatric evaluation of Dylann Roof to take place this weekend and a hearing for Monday. In response, attorneys acting as his standby counsel asked for a delay, suggesting one week. Gergel said no.

In court documents filed Thursday, the attorneys said Roof's refusal to present evidence to defend himself from the death penalty suggests he lacks the mental capacity to act as his own lawyer.

The penalty phase of Roof's prosecution is set to begin Tuesday before the federal jury that convicted him Dec. 15 of hate crimes and other counts.