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Dylann Roof to represent himself in hate crimes trial

A federal judge on Monday agreed to allow suspected Charleston, South Carolina, church shooter Dylann Roof to represent himself in his upcoming hate crimes trial, according to multiple reports.

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Roof on Monday morning filed a motion to represent himself in the trial and told U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel that he is able to file objections, file motions and question witnesses on his own, WCIV reported. Gergel assigned Roof's current attorneys to stay on the case as standby counsel.

"I do find defendant has the personal capacity to self-representation," Gergel said, according to The Post and Courier. "I continue to believe it is strategically unwise, but it is a decision you have the right to make."

Roof’s request came as jury selection was scheduled to begin after his attorneys delayed the process to request that the court review Roof’s mental health and fitness for trial.

Gergel on Friday found Roof, 22, competent to stand trial in federal court. He was previously found competent to face state charges.

He has been charged with multiple hate crimes, obstruction of religion and other charges. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

He is suspected of gunning down nine people in June 2015 as they worshiped at the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in a case that spurred a national conversation about race and religion.

According to police, Roof sat through nearly an hour of prayer and Bible study with the church’s pastor and 11 others before pulling a gun from his fanny pack near the end of the class and firing dozens of shots.

Roof hurled racial insults at the six women and three men he is accused of killing and the three people he left alive, authorities said. He said he left the three unharmed so they could tell the world the shootings were because he hated black people.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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