Charleston Church shooter reverses decision to represent himself, for now

Dylann Roof appears at a court hearing in Charleston, S.C., on July 16. (Grace Beahm/Post and Courier via AP/Pool)

Dylann Roof appears at a court hearing in Charleston, S.C., in July 2015. (Photo: Grace Beahm/Post and Courier via AP/Pool)

The man accused of gunning down nine black parishioners during a bible study in South Carolina last year wants his defense team back in charge, for now.

Court documents filed Monday describe 22-year-old Dylann Roof’s request to reinstate his legal team during the guilt phase of his federal death penalty trial, set to begin next week.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel signed an order dated Nov. 28 allowing Roof to represent himself, though he cautioned it was “strategically unwise.” The decision came following a closed competency hearing last month in which Gergel ruled Roof was mentally competent to stand trial.

Gergel granted Roof’s latest request in an order filed Monday afternoon.

Roof stands accused of 33 federal offenses, including hate crime charges and obstruction of religion, for shooting and killing nine black churchgoers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on June 17, 2015.

Court documents describe the shooter as a self-identified white supremacist who targeted the historically black church with the intention of starting a race war.

Roof’s state murder trial remains set to begin next month.

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