Attorneys argue over whether competency hearing in Roof trial should be public

Attorneys argue over whether competency hearing in Roof trial should be public

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The judge in the federal Charleston church shooting trial denied a defense request to seal a motion about the suspect's competency evaluation.

Dylann Roof faces 33 federal charges in the deaths of nine people at Mother Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015.

Judge Richard Gergel issued an order Friday stating redacting, or censoring, certain parts of filings would be "a reasonable alternative to sealing the document."

Roof's defense team filed a motion Thursday requesting a competency hearing scheduled for Wednesday be closed to the public, but prosecutors opposed that.

The defense filed the motion under seal, arguing that making its contents public could jeopardize Roof's rights to a fair trial, to a reliable hearing and against self-incrimination. Gergel said sensitive information that could so threaten Roof's rights would be redacted or obscured.

Roof is currently undergoing a competency evaluation. Gergel has said he expects to have the results of that evaluation by Monday, then will convene a competency hearing on Wednesday and issue a ruling about whether to continue the case by next Friday.

Gergel has said he plans to resume jury selection on Nov. 21, the Monday before Thanksgiving, assuming Roof is found competent to stand trial on the federal charges.

The defense has also suggested the court should consider postponing the continuation of jury selection until after the Thanksgiving holiday "to be sensitive to the needs of the survivors, the victims and our client's own family."

Copyright 2016 WCSC. All rights reserved.