A man accused of fatally shooting three people and wounding nine others at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last year thought he was being followed by federal agents that day, a police detective said in court on Thursday.
Robert Lewis Dear, 58, told police he believed 10 federal agents were following him the day of the shooting, and his neighbor and girlfriend also were working for federal officials, Colorado Springs Police Department detective Jerry Schiffelbein said under questioning by Dear’s attorney. The detective interviewed Dear after his arrest.
The hearing is to determine whether Dear is mentally competent enough to fire his lawyers. Dear has said he wants to represent himself against multiple charges of murder and attempted murder, after previously declaring he was guilty and calling himself a “warrior for the babies” at a hearing in December.
Dear also said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been following him after he called into a radio station following the Branch Davidian mass deaths in 1993 in Waco, Texas, Schiffelbein testified. He said there was no indication federal officials ever actually followed Dear.
Dear interrupted the hearings a couple times, blurting out “I figured it out” and “I forgive her” in relation to his girlfriend.
El Paso County District Court Judge Gilbert Martinez ordered the South Carolina native to undergo a competency examination after Dear previously said he wanted to dismiss his lawyers.
Those attorneys have said in court papers that evaluators concluded Dear was mentally incompetent, but it is up to Martinez to rule whether the case can proceed and if Dear can represent himself.
If the judge rules Dear mentally unfit, the case will be suspended while he undergoes treatment until he is restored to competency.
Dear has been held without bond at the El Paso County jail since he surrendered on Nov. 27 at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs following a five-hour siege. It marked the first deadly attack on a U.S. abortion provider since 2009.
Dear, who police said was armed with several rifles and opened fire in the parking lot of the clinic before storming the building, told detectives after his arrest that he was upset with Planned Parenthood for performing abortions and what he said was the “selling of body parts,” the documents showed.
District Attorney Dan May said he would not announce whether he would seek the death penalty until after Dear formally enters a plea.
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis, Peter Cooney and Bernard Orr)