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Judge orders psychiatric exam for South Carolina church shooter Dylann Roof

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A federal judge on Thursday ordered a psychiatric examination for Dylann Roof, days before he is to represent himself as prosecutors make the case that he should be executed for the June 2015 massacre at a Charleston, South Carolina, church.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said in an order he was requesting the evaluation and would hold a second competency hearing “in an abundance of caution” after Roof’s standby lawyers filed a motion about his mental fitness to stand trial.

The motion was sealed, but Gergel said defense lawyers stated it was spurred by facts developed since the judge found Roof competent after a hearing held in November ahead of the guilt phase of his trial.

Defense lawyer David Bruck, who filed the motion, and the lead prosecutor did not comment on the latest developments in the case.

Jurors on Dec. 15 found Roof, a 22-year-old avowed white supremacist, guilty of 33 counts of federal hate crimes resulting in death, obstruction of religion and firearms violations stemming from the shooting deaths of nine people attending a Bible study at a historic black church.

U.S. prosecutors will ask the jury to sentence Roof to death during the penalty phase of the trial set to begin Tuesday.

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At a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday, Roof told Gergel he would offer no evidence or witnesses in his defense.

That revelation may have left his standby counsel feeling ethically bound to seek another competency hearing, said Christopher Adams, a criminal defense lawyer in Charleston who is not involved in the case.

Roof’s lawyers were not permitted to present any mental health evidence when they represented him during the guilt phase, and Roof said he would serve as his own lawyer for the sentencing trial.

“The best evidence of the mental illness is that he refuses to let anyone know it when it could save his life,” Adams said in a phone interview. “This crime wasn’t the product of a normal brain.”

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Roof will be evaluated at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston by a court-appointed psychiatrist over the weekend, and a competency hearing is set for Monday, Gergel said in his order.

The judge said he was considering closing the hearing to protect Roof’s right to a fair trial but so far saw no reason to delay the sentencing proceedings.

(Additional reporting and writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Virginia Democrats are so fired up that the party chair had to scold them: ‘Sit down — be quiet’

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Democrats in Virginia are fired up as they gathered in Richmond for their annual gala dinner.

Political analysts believe the Democratic Party of Virginia has a good chance to win control of the state legislature in 2019's election, before setting their sights on the Commonwealth continuing its recent trend of voting Democratic in presidential elections.

Patrick Wilson, a political reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, attended the event.

He reported that Democrats were so "noisy" that it was hard to hear the speakers, which include presidential candidates Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

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‘Everyone knows what to expect’ at Trump’s Amway Center re-election kickoff

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Donald Trump considers himself a legendary salesman, but can he really sell America on giving him four more drama-filled years at the White House?

Tuesday, he'll make his big pitch.

The 2020 reelection kickoff rally is being held in Orlando, Florida and campaign operations chief Michael Glassner says the "historic" event "has already generated tens of thousands of ticketing requests."

There's little mystery about how the night will go down.

Expect Trump, the self-promoting hero of his ghost-written book "The Art of the Deal," to claim the US economy is richer, the military stronger, and the country more respected than ever in history.

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Florida man’s own family blasts him after he was arrested for racist threats: ‘This isn’t how we were raised’

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After a Florida man was arrested for trying to start a race war, a member of his own family slammed his values.

"A Florida man’s social media posts that threatened violence against African-Americans, Jews and homosexuals and that urged his followers to start a race war netted him a $1 million bond," the Miami Herald reported Saturday. "And then there’s another $100,000 bond he would have to pay to get out of Lee County Jail because of a weapons charge."

Joshua Leff, 40, is being held in the Lee County Jail.

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