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Charleston Shooter Dylann Roof Will Defend Himself in Court

The 22-year-old was granted the right to act as his own attorney in his upcoming federal trial on hate crimes charges.

by Lauren Messman
29 November 2016, 12:00am

Dylan Roof appears in court accompanied by assistant defensive attorney William Maguire in July. Photo by Grace Beahm-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge has granted Dylann Roof's request to defend himself against hate crime charges in court after finding that he's mentally competent to stand trial, the Charleston Post and Courier reports.

Roof, the 22-year-old who faces state murder charges and federal hate crime charges for gunning down nine black parishioners in June 2015, won the petition to be his own lawyer on Monday morning.

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

The self-described white supremacist is accused of targeting African Americans at a prayer group at the Emanuel AME Church. He faces 33 federal charges, including hate crime violations, in addition to separate capital murder charges in state court. His offer to plead guilty and serve life in prison was rejected last week, as the feds appear determined to give him the death penalty.

By representing himself in court, Roof will be able to question prospective jurors and may even interact with survivors of the shooting or victims' family members.

Watch: Obama's Responses to 16 Mass Shootings in Eight Years