Dylann Roof Changes His Mind About Representing Himself During Trial

Image via Getty
Image via Getty

Dylann Roof was given permission to represent himself by U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel in late November. Roof was arrested for the murder of nine parishioners at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015, and faces the death penalty.

The Associated Press reports that Roof was allowed to handle the selection of a pool of 67 potential jurors on his own after he fired his legal team. Neither the judge nor his lawyers recommended this decision, and he is now being allowed to hired his lawyers back—temporarily.

Since Roof is facing the death penalty, his case is split into two parts. There’s the “guilt” phase, in which it is argued whether or not Roof is guilty of his alleged crimes. If convicted, this is followed by a portion of the case in which it is decided if Roof should be sentenced to death or life in prison. Lawyers will see Roof through the “guilt” phase of his trial, but he wishes to represent himself during the penalty phase. Judge Gergel approved the decision on Monday, but says it’s the last time Roof can change his mind.


Roof’s lawyers have been focusing on the death penalty throughout proceedings, filing a claim stating that it was unconstitutional. The AP says that his lawyers also “feared Roof wouldn’t introduce evidence that could possibly spare his life” were he to represent himself throughout his trial. Final jury selection and opening statements are scheduled to begin Wednesday. This is just his federal case; when it’s over, Roof must defend himself against state murder charges that also include the death penalty.

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin

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Hip Brooklyn Stereotype

There’s the “guilt” phase...

Wow, this is starting to sound like the holidays with my parents.