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In the document, Gergel describes the accused Charleston church shooter first asking about defending himself during a competency hearing on November 22, a closed-door proceeding that was set by the judge after Roof's appointed attorney, David Bruck, "expressed concern" about his client's mental capacity to stand trial.

A federal judge has made clear he wants to hear directly from the white man representing himself in the fatal shooting of nine black parishioners at a SC church. This is the first of two planned trials for Roof, who also faces state charges including 9 counts of murder. Please click the button below to manage your account.

You are reading news and information on LongIsland.com, Long Island's Most Popular Website, Since 1996. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article. But federal prosecutors have refused to take the death penalty off the table in the slayings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

Roof has not said publicly why he wants to defend himself against charges stemming from the shooting attack, carried out during a Bible study session at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015. He said he left three people unharmed so they could tell the world the shootings were because he hated black people. Jailed during his trial, Roof has no access to email, Bruck noted, so he doesn't have the ability either to receive the documents electronically or share them with his advisers.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said he had no problem with sending copies of his filings to Roof's team but pointed out that Roof, now acting as his own lawyer, was being kept sufficiently in the loop with paper copies of all filings, a detail with which the judge agreed. After defense attorneys filed a sealed motion, Gergel found reason to believe Roof might suffer a "mental disease or defect" that rendered him unable to assist properly in his defense or to grasp the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him, as the law requires. Gergel cautioned Roof against the move, calling it "strategically unwise" and noting his defense team's considerable legal expertise.

In deciding to act as his own attorney, Roof enjoys some practical benefits, but also is subject to disadvantages, said U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel, stressing that the defendant can not lean on his former defense team as co-counselors.

"Is that OK, son?"

Potential jurors are being questioned one at a time, out of the presence of other jurors.

The court needs 70 qualified jurors before attorneys can begin whittling that number down to 12 jurors and six alternates. A dozen more candidates were expected to be called in Tuesday for one-on-one questioning by the judge.

The judge on Monday approved Roof's request to act as his own lawyer while keeping his defense team ready to advise him.

"He wants death so I think he should be struck", Roof said.

Gergel disagreed on that juror, saying he thought the man had misunderstood the written questions and seemed to be telling the truth in court.

Many potential jurors for the trial of a white man accused of fatally shooting nine black parishioners at a SC church say they've heard about the defendant's competency hearing. "It's just a matter of life or death".

The selection process was halted November 7 after Roof's lawyers questioned his ability to understand the case against him. After a hasty two-day competency hearing, Gergel last week ruled that Roof was competent to stand trial.