Dylann Roof is accused of killing nine black worshippers in an attack on a church in Charleston in June 2015
Dylann Roof is competent to stand trial for the killing of nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church in 2015, a federal judge ruled.
The ruling came on Friday after Roof’s lawyers suggested he did not understand the charges against him or could not help them with his defense.
It remains unclear exactly why Roof’s competency was under question, and federal judge Richard Gergel sealed his findings, saying that information could keep the 22-year-old from having a fair trial.
James Ballenger conducted a psychological review of Roof and testified at the two-day competency hearing, along with four unnamed witnesses, behind closed doors.
The judge wrote in his order that he also reviewed the sworn statements from three others.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers delayed sorting through 3,000 jurors to hold the competency hearing, and the final jury selection process will resume on Monday.
Roof faces 33 federal charges, including hate crimes and obstruction of religion for the deadly June 2015 massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
He also faces a separate state trial for nine counts of murder.
His attorneys said he is willing to plead guilty and serve life in prison if the death penalty is removed, but both federal and state prosecutors have said they will pursue it.
Pictured, the AME Emanuel Church. Roof entered the church on June 17, 2015, and sat through a weekly bible study meeting for nearly an hour before he opened fire, police said
A judge has decided Dylann Roof is competent to stand trial. Jury selection, which began in September and was delayed due to the competency hearing, will resume on Monday
Roof entered the church on June 17, 2015, and sat through a weekly bible study meeting for nearly an hour before he fired dozens of shots, police said.
He fled the scene and was taken into custody the next day after he was pulled over during a traffic stop in Shelby, North Carolina.
Nine black people, including the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, died in the church massacre, and Roof, who is white, later told investigators he wanted to ‘start a race war’.
He also used racial slurs before the shooting and declared that he hated black people, investigators said.
The 21-year-old claimed responsibility for the shooting and told investigators he wanted everyone to know what he had done, authorities said.
He also revealed that he ‘almost didn’t go through with it because everyone was so nice to him’, sources told NBC News, but he ultimately decided that he had to ‘go through with his mission’.
His roommate also revealed that Roof, who had been planning the attack for six months, wanted to start a ‘civil war’ before killing himself.
Another friend said that Roof complained that black people were ‘taking over the world’ and said someone had to do something about it for the sake of ‘the white race’.
Pictured, the six women and three men who died in the shooting. Roof, who is white, later told investigators he wanted to ‘start a race war’
Roof left behind a ranting, racist manifesto that called for a new civil war in America.
In it, Roof said he formulated his racist ideas after the highly-publicized killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in 2012.
He did an online search for ‘black on white crime’, and was led to the website of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Roof concluded that ‘drastic action’ was necessary to stop the U.S. being taken over by minorities.
He also pinpointed Charleston, South Carolina, as a target because of its significant African American population.
He concluded the manifesto by writing: ‘We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.’
Roof said he was not raised a racist, but formulated his ideas after the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in 2012 led him to the website of a white supremacist group
Roof posted his racist manifesto on a website that also contained a cache of images of Roof burning and spitting on the American flag (pictured left. Right, Roof with a gun)
The manifesto was posted on the website, titled Last Rhodesian – a reference to the former African state of Rhodesia ruled by white people – which was initially registered to Roof.
The site was set up in February 2015, and is registered via a privacy protection company in Queensland, Australia, designed to mask the identity of who runs a website.
The site also contained a cache of images of Roof burning and spitting on the American flag.
Other photos showed Roof posing next to Confederate landmarks and standing menacingly with a gun pointed at the camera.
Roof’s Facebook profile picture also featured him sporting a Rhodesian flag.