COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - This is the week the trial of Dylan Roof, the man accused of killing nine churchgoers in Charleston gets underway.
Roof will be acting as his own attorney despite having no legal training and facing federal and state murder charges that could carry the death penalty.
Roof won't be the first accused killer to defend himself. Infamous murderers Charles Manson and Ted Bundy acted as their own lawyers.
So did the so-called "Beltway Sniper" John Allen Muhammed who terrorized the Washington, D.C. area 15 years ago killing 17.
And another kind of terrorist, the so-called "Underwear Bomber," who tried to blow up a jetliner in 2009, also chose to defend himself.
And just as he luckily failed as a bomber, he failed as a lawyer, earning himself four consecutive life terms.
The judge who is allowing Dylan Roof to defend himself - a constitutional option - made a legal decision but not necessarily a good one.
Because Roof isn't allowed any assistance in court from his stand-by counsel, there could be appeals or mistrials, with survivors and victims' families having to endure the agony of rehashing those tragic events multiple times.
It's a spectacle the victims' families ought to be spared.
Everyone deserves a fair trial, but the Charleston victims also deserve a smart, focused trial, not a circus.
General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to:
WTVM Editorial Committee
1909 Wynnton Road
Columbus, GA 31906