Charleston, SC (WLTX) - A federal judge has ruled Dylann Roof, the man convicted of the Charleston church massacre, is competent to stand trial and represent himself during the penalty phase of the case.
Judge Richard Gergel issued his decision following an early six-hour long hearing Monday.
Roof's standby defense attorneys had tried to argue that Roof may not be competent to give his own defense this week, when jurors will decide if Roof gets the death penalty or life in prison.
Roof has previously said he does not intend to call witnesses.
The penalty phase will now begin as scheduled on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.
The same jury that will decide his ultimate face is the same that found Roof guilty on December 15 of shooting and killing nine people at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in June of 2015. He was also convicted of three counts of attempted murder, as well as multiple hate crime charges.
Previous Coverage: Dylann Roof Convicted of Charleston Church Massacre
A taped confession, a journal, and other writings shown during the trial all revealed racist beliefs that Roof had held in the months leading up to the killings. Prosecutors said all along the killings were done out of malice and hatred that he had for African-Americans, and that he targeted Mother Emanuel because it was a nearly all-black congregation.
Roof's attorneys never disputed his guilt, but instead have argued he should be spared the death penalty. Even before the trial began, they tried to convince Gergel that Roof was not mentally competent, but Gergel disagreed.
Roof has maintained that he wants to represent himself during the penalty phase, despite the misgivings of his counsel.
Monday's hearing was not open to the public, despite objections from media organizations, including WLTX-TV. Gergel has said he will make a transcript of the proceeding public once Roof is sentenced.