The trial of the Charleston church shooter, Dylann Roof, was on hold for a while after his defense team attempted to claim that he was too mentally impaired to participate in his defense and understand the charges against him. This led to the usual round of evaluations and tests which were presented to a federal judge for consideration. The verdict on that aspect of the trial is now in and Roof will face a jury (or potentially several of them) for his murderous rampage. (Washington Post)
A federal judge on Friday ruled that Dylann Roof, the 22-year-old accused of killing nine parishioners in a Charleston, S.C., church last year, is competent to stand trial.
Jury selection will resume in the case on Monday with individual questioning of prospective jurors, the judge said.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel made the ruling in a three-page order that kept sealed exactly what he found, a step he said was necessary to make sure Roof gets a fair trial. Hearings on the matter were also conducted in secret.
“After carefully considering the record before the Court, the relevant legal standards, and the arguments of counsel, the Court now finds and concludes that the Defendant is competent to stand trial,” Gergel wrote.
This certainly sounds like the right decision to me. Might we fairly conclude that Roof is “crazy” in some fashion? Obviously anyone who is willing to murder that many total strangers who represent no threat to him in cold blood has a screw loose somewhere. But that’s no excuse to spare him punishment for his crimes. Roof was able to hold down a job, interact with friends, engage on social media and perform all of the other normal activities of a nominally functional adult. From everything we’ve learned since the massacre, up until the moment he walked into that church and started shooting there was no reason for anyone to suspect there was anything dysfunctional about him beyond being an unpleasant son of bitch and a mean spirited individual. Nobody needed to spoon feed him or guide him from place to place out of fear that he was somehow disconnected from reality in a disabling fashion.
In short, Dylann Roof may have been crazy, but he’s not that kind of crazy. So now we can move on to what should be the inevitable conclusion. If a jury finds him not only guilty, but deserving of the death penalty, we need to put this beast down and be done with it.
This case carries with it not only moral imperative of separating right from wrong and good from evil, but also plays into larger social debates taking place around the country. On the first score, Roof has done something so far beyond the bounds of accepted, civilized behavior that he needs to be removed from the general pool. I realize that some of you oppose the death penalty and I respect your right to feel that way, but current laws allow for this course of action where applicable and there are few better candidates than Mr. Roof.
But there’s also the social debate question I referenced above. When it comes to law enforcement questions, too many debates take place in America where liberals claim that conservatives who care about law and order in a hopefully safe society give a pass to white perpetrators while going harder on minority suspects. Dylann Roof is yet another horror show where we should support setting the record straight. Justice needs to not only be blind in general, but colorblind in particular. Roof could have been white, black, Hispanic or Native American. It makes no difference. He’s a monster, and sometimes the monsters must be slain.