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Trial of South Carolina Shooter Dylann Roof Delayed for Competency Evaluation

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Centralized Bond Hearing Court, of Charleston, S.C./AP

Jury selection for the death penalty trial of alleged South Carolina church shooter Dylann Roof was scheduled to begin today, but a judge postponed it so Roof can receive a competency evaluation, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.

“An issue has arisen concerning the Defendant’s competency to stand trial,” according to a court order filed late Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel. “Federal law requires the Court to order a competency evaluation of Defendant and to conduct a hearing on the matter.”

Roof, 22, has been accused of fatally shooting nine people in June 2015, when he allegedly opened fire on a bible study group at a Charleston, South Carolina, church.

Roof allegedly sat alongside his victims for about one hour during a Bible study class inside the Emanuel AME Church before opening fire on the parishioners, authorities have said.

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His competency hearing is scheduled for Nov. 16 and Gergel is expected to make a decision on or before Nov. 18, according to documents. For now, the jury selection has been suspended.

Roof, an alleged white supremacist, has been charged with 33 federal counts, including several hate crimes, and awaits his November trial. He has pleaded not guilty.

Previously, he agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence instead of the death penalty, but prosecutors denied the request. His lawyers challenged the death penalty, calling it unconstitutional, but a judge denied the challenge, according to court records.