The trial of Dylann Roof, charged with murder in the shooting deaths of nine churchgoers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., last summer, has been delayed and is now rescheduled for Jan. 17, 2017, Reuters reports.
Judge J.C. Nicholson said that he was obligated to once again delay the trial because defense lawyers said a doctor needed up to six months to psychiatrically evaluate the 22-year-old. The judge asked the defense why doctors were not hired six months ago and suggested that defense lawyers were using "delaying tactics."
"Time constraints are tying our hands as well," defense lawyer William McGuire said in court, denying any purposeful delay.
Roof waived his right to appear at Wednesday's hearing, which was attended by relatives of the victims.
Roof is accused of walking into a Bible-study session at the church, known as Mother Emanuel, on June 17 and opening fire on the small group, killing nine congregants, including the pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney. Roof is facing nine counts of murder, as well as attempted-murder charges regarding three people who survived the massacre. The state is seeking the death penalty.
If Roof is convicted, doctors are expected to testify in the sentencing phase of the trial about Roof's alleged use of cocaine and other substances, his mental health and other background information, court documents filed Tuesday acknowledged, according to Reuters.
Roof is also facing 33 federal charges, including hate crimes, obstruction of religion and firearm offenses. It is still being decided whether he will face the death penalty in his federal case. Defense attorneys in both cases have said that Roof will plead guilty if he is not subject to the death penalty.
Read more at Reuters.