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 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.
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.