Judge closes Roof competency hearing to the public
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel ordered the competency hearing for Dylann Roof will be closed to the public. The 22-year-old white man is facing 33 federal counts, including hate crime charges, for the murders of nine black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015.
Jury selection in Roof's case was set to start last week, but at the last minute the defense raised concerns that he was not competent to stand trial. The judge ordered a mental evaluation. Court papers say the examiners report was given to parties late last night. In order to allow attorneys to prepare for the hearing, the judge re-scheduled the hearing for Monday, November 21 at 9 a.m.
Gergel has closed the hearing citing the Sixth Amendment, the right to a fair trial and impartial jury. Several media organizations including NPR has objected to the closing of the hearing. Gergel said in the order anyone wishing to object to the private hearing can do so Thursday, November 17 at 1 p.m.
Jury selection has also been rescheduled for the Monday after Thanksgiving.