Pre-trial hearing today in advance of sentencing proceedings for Dylann Roof

December 28, 2016 GMT

A hearing is scheduled for this morning to discuss matters pertaining to sentencing proceedings for Dylann Roof, who faces a possible death sentence for killing nine black worshipers at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel scheduled the pre-trial hearing for 10 a.m.

Earlier this month, a jury found the 22-year-old self-avowed white supremacist guilty of 33 federal counts in the June 2015 church massacre. He was convicted of hate crimes, obstructing religion and firearms violations.

The jury will return Jan. 3 to begin the penalty phase of the trial. They will mull whether Roof should be put to death for his crimes or sentenced to a life prison term.

Roof has sidelined his accomplished legal team for this phase of the proceedings, preferring to act as his own attorney. He sent Gergel a handwritten note after his conviction indicating he did not plan to call experts or introduce evidence related to his mental health. His former lawyers almost certainly would have tried to use such evidence to persuade the jury to spare his life.

Gergel has urged Roof to rethink his decision to represent himself, but Roof has given no indication he plans to change course.