South Carolina

Roof’s uncertain mental status may delay start of his death penalty trial in Charleston

Dylann Roof
Dylann Roof Charleston County jail

The current mental status of accused Charleston church killer Dylann Roof has emerged as a key issue and may delay the start of his upcoming death penalty trial.

Legal papers on the U.S. District Court internet site made public Friday make it clear that defense and prosecution lawyers are wrangling over the issue of Roof’s mental competency.

Roof’s mental status is currently being evaluated in a confidential setting.

Judge Richard Gergel has set next Wednesday as the day he will hold a hearing to get evidence on Roof’s mental state, and whether Roof is competent to stand trial for crimes related to the 2015 mass killings of nine African-Americans at the historic downtown Charleston church, Mother Emanuel.

In the legal papers made public Friday, defense lawyers indicate they want to delay jury selection now until the week after Thanksgiving. Gergel had wanted to start jury selection on Nov. 21, the Monday the week of Thanksgiving.

(This story will be updated.)