Roof cannot approach witnesses, jury as he defends himself in federal court


When Dylann Roof starts his own defense in the sentencing phase of his federal hate crimes trial, he will not be able to approach the witness stand, the jury, or the bench.

An order signed Monday afternoon by U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel limits the convicted church shooter's movements to the lectern in the center of the courtroom and his seat at the defense table.

Anything that needs to be passed to Gergel or witnesses will be done through someone else, Gergel's order reads.

Roof will also sit in the third chair at the table, despite being having the lead in his defense.

It's unclear if that means defense attorney David Bruck will have more power in the sentencing hearings that begin on Tuesday.

The order comes as attorneys are mired in a closed competency hearing for Roof, brought on by a motion from Bruck questioning Roof's mental state after he said through a letter to the court he did not have plans to call any mental health witnesses or present any mental health evidence to mitigate his crimes.

Roof was convicted in December of committing hate crimes and crimes against religious practice for the fatal shooting inside the fellowship hall at Emanuel AME Church in 2015.

He faces the death penalty.

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