Judge orders evaluation of Dylann Roof before sentencing

Police lead suspected shooter Dylann Roof into the courthouse in Shelby North Carolina U.S

Police lead suspected shooter Dylann Roof into the courthouse in Shelby Thomson Reuters

Following a jury's guilty verdict in the case of Dylann Roof - the white supremacist who killed nine black people in Charleston, S.C. - the presiding Judge Richard Gergel mandated another competency evaluation ahead of the 22-year-old's sentencing next year, ABC News reports. Roof told the judge in Wednesday's hearing that he sees the public release of those documents as problematic.

Gergel said then he took the rare step of keeping the hearing closed to the public and media because Roof made statements to a psychologist that might not be legal to use at his trial and could taint potential jurors.

Roof has said he will not call witnesses on his behalf during the sentencing phase.

Gergel reiterates that he ordered the new exam "out of an abundance of caution", but makes clear he will not "conduct a "redo" of the last hearing.

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".

He specifies that the doctor who will evaluate Roof at the Charleston County jail this weekend is the same doctor who evaluated him last time.

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

His lawyers have challenged the federal death penalty.

At the end of the sentencing proceeding set to begin Tuesday, the same jury that decided Roof's guilt must weigh aggravating and mitigating evidence and determine whether he should be executed for the 18 charges that carry the death penalty.

"This defendant's announcement that he will not defend himself against the death penalty - following an government presentation that is expected to involve more than 38 additional witnesses and hundreds more exhibits - raises in especially stark fashion the question of whether the defendant is actually unable to defend himself", Bruck said Thursday in his motion.

The remaining objections offer suggestions that certain words or phrases be modified.

If Gergel were to grant Bruck's motion of a one-week delay, that would push the penalty phase of the trial back into January.

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