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Dylann Roof attorneys want competency hearing pushed back - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Dylann Roof attorneys want competency hearing pushed back

Source: Live 5 News Source: Live 5 News
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

Dylann Roof's stand by counsel are requesting that the competency hearing scheduled for the convicted Charleston church shooter be delayed. 

Roof's standby counsel filed a motion requesting the competency hearing scheduled for Monday be pushed back one week.

According to court records, attorneys say the delay is so they can review the mental health evaluation scheduled for this weekend.

In court motions filed on Thursday, attorneys say the court's evaluator and defense experts will be attempting to meet with Roof between now and Jan. 2. 

"These conditions are not optimal, but even if they are adhered to, the parties will require time to review the results of those evaluations in order to assure a full and accurate presentation to the Court," attorneys said in the motion."We therefore suggest a one week continuance to permit the evaluators to complete their work, the parties to review it, and the witnesses to make travel arrangements." 

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel had scheduled a hearing for Monday at 9 a.m. to consider a competency hearing filed by Roof's standby counsel David Bruck. 

"In an abundance of caution, the Court orders an additional independent psychiatric evaluation and will hold another competency hearing," Gergel wrote. Gergel's order states the court-appointed doctor will conduct the evaluation over New Year's weekend at the Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston County where Roof is being held.

Gergel has also scheduled a hearing to begin at 8:30 a.m. to allow members of the public to express objections to close 9 a.m. hearing.

The order said Judge Gergel intends to rule on the defendant's competency from the bench, with a written opinion to follow. If the competency hearing is closed, the judge will also issue a brief order shortly after the hearing to communicate his ruling on the defendant's competency. 

Roof's standby counsel made the motion based on "facts developed since the competency hearing held on Nov. 21-22," the order states.

The order added that "at this point, the Court finds no reason to cancel or delay the sentencing trial scheduled to commence on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m."

Roof was convicted earlier this month on 33 federal charges in the June 17, 2015, shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in which nine parishioners were killed.

Prosecutors file motion objecting to jury instructions for penalty phase

Prosecutors Thursday filed a motion listing five objections to proposed instructions jurors will receive when they begin deliberating Roof's fate. Jurors are scheduled to begin deciding Tuesday whether Roof will face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors object to the judge's plan to tell jurors that if they cannot reach a unanimous sentence of death, he will then impose life in prison without the possibility of release, arguing a legal precedent that such an instruction given to a jury before it deliberates could serve as "an open invitation for the jury to avoid its responsibility and to disagree," the motion states. Prosecutors say the judge should only provide such an instruction if the jury returns and states it actually is deadlocked.

The motion also states prosecutors want a specific instruction included that the jury find that Roof was at least 18 years old at the time of the crime, a fact that is not in dispute, but that is still legally required.

The remaining objections offer suggestions that certain words or phrases be modified. The government also asks the judge to consider adding specific instructions about the role of alternate jurors, particularly since they did not deliberate in the guilt phase of the trial.

This is a developing story. Check back for additional information.

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