July 13 (UPI) -- The Australian man who pleaded guilty to killing 51 people during a shooting spree last year in Christchurch has said he will represent himself during sentencing next month, a New Zealand court said Monday.
Brenton Tarrant, 29, pleaded guilty mid-March to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one charge of engaging in a terrorist act for attacking two mosques in Christchurch in March of 2019. He is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 24.
Judge Cameron Mander approved Tarrant's request during the pre-sentencing hearing via video link on Monday, stating his change in legal representation would not affect the date of his sentencing.
"Because Mr. Tarrant wishes to represent himself at sentencing, I will be appointing a lawyer to fulfill the role of standby counsel," Mander said in a statement. "The role of standby counsel is to assist the defendant if and to the extent the defendant wishes to accept that counsel's assistance."
His former representation, Shane Tait and Jonathan Hudson, said there was no "conflict or relationship breakdown" with Tarrant.
"Tarrant has instructed counsel that he wishes to act for himself at sentence. We are not disappointed by Mr. Tarrant's decision," the two lawyers said in a joint statement.
Tarrant was arrested on March 15, 2019, by police after being accused of attacking Muslims attending Friday prayer at two Christchurch mosques.