Charleston, SC (WLTX, AP)- A federal judge is allowing Dylann Roof, the man charged with killing nine people at a church in Charleston, to represent himself.
Roof made a motion Monday for the change overnight before the beginning of jury selection Monday. Judge Richard Gergel granted the request soon afterward.
Roof, wearing a prison jumpsuit, entered the court just after 9 a.m. The judge then announced that there had been a motion file overnight and a response by federal prosecutors. After reading the charges against the defendant, Gergel asked Roof if he understood the serious of the charges and the punishment, to which Roof said "yes."
Gergel told Roof that he thought the decision was "strategically unwise" but said it was Roof's right, and granted the request.
Moments later, the screening of potential jurors began. The first was a woman who told the jury she had "mixed emotions" about the death penalty. She was also asked if the racial component to the trial would be a problem, and she said it would not.
Roof, 22, is charged with counts including hate crimes and obstruction of religion in the Emanuel AME Church shootings. It's the first of two death penalty trials he faces.
The jury selection process was halted November 7th after Roof's lawyers questioned his ability to understand the case against him. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel's ruling last week cleared the way for Monday's process to begin anew.
Beginning Monday, 516 potential jurors will report to the courthouse to be individually questioned by the judge. When 70 qualified jurors are picked, attorneys can use strikes to dismiss those they don't want.
The final jury will have 12 jurors and six alternatives.