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Charleston church gunman can represent himself in federal trial

In this image from the video uplink from the detention center to the courtroom, Dylann Roof appears at Centralized Bond Hearing Court June 19, 2015, in North Charleston, South Carolina. (Getty Images/ Grace Beahm-Pool)

A federal judge has granted Dylann Roof, the 22-year-old accused of murdering nine black churchgoers last year, permission to represent himself in trial.

"I do find the defendant has the personal capacity to self-representation. I continue to believe it is strategically unwise, but it's a decision you have the right to make," U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said Monday.

According to the Charleston Post and Courier, Roof quietly responded, "Yes, sir," to the judge.

Gergel just deemed Roof mentally competent to stand trial on Friday. He ordered an evaluation of Roof after defense attorneys questioned his mental state.

A self-proclaimed white supremacist, federal authorities are seeking the death penalty for Roof. He is accused of gunning down nine black church members during a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in June 2015.

Roof is said to have sat with the victims during the Bible study before he opened fire. He is also said to have targeted his victims because they were black.

Roof faces 33 federal charges that include violation of religious freedoms and hate crime laws. The Post and Courier reported that he offered to plead guilty with a life in prison sentence, but prosecutors want the death penalty.

According to the Post and Courier, the first panel of 10 perspective jurors are all white and middle-aged or older. The jury selection process is expected to take several weeks.

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