Competency hearing to resume for accused Colorado clinic gunman
The man who proclaimed himself a “warrior for the babies” after a fatal shooting spree at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last year was due back in court on Tuesday for the continuation of a hearing on his mental state.
During a daylong hearing last month, two state psychologists testified that their evaluation of Robert Lewis Dear, 58, found him delusional and unfit to stand trial for the Colorado Springs rampage that left three dead and nine wounded.
El Paso County judge Gilbert Martinez ordered the mental evaluation of Dear in December after the South Carolina native insisted on firing his attorney and representing himself in a case stemming from the first fatal attack on a U.S. abortion provider since 2009.
Dear, who has insisted he is competent, declared himself guilty and a “warrior for the babies” in previous courtroom outbursts.
If Martinez rules Dear unfit – meaning he is incapable of understanding the proceedings and assisting in his own defense – the case will be suspended and he will be sent back to a state hospital where doctors will seek to restore him to competency.
The first of two psychologists to testify on April 28, Jackie Grimmett, said Dear appeared to be suffering from a delusional disorder, possessing a factual but not rational understanding of the criminal proceedings.
Her colleague, B. Thomas Gray, concurred that Dear was delusional, saying the defendant “intends to plead guilty unless God tells him differently.”
A police detective who took the stand recounted Dear telling police after his arrest that he believed he was being followed by 10 federal agents the day of the shooting.
As the proceeding wore on, Dear repeatedly interjected, at one point telling the judge, “If you find me incompetent, I’ll know you’re with them.”
Dear has been held without bond since surrendering at the end of a bloody five-hour siege on Nov. 27 at the Planned Parenthood center, where police said he opened fire outside the building then stormed inside.
Among those killed were two people who happened to be in the clinic’s waiting area – a U.S. Army veteran and a mother of two – as well as a police officer.
Dear, charged with first degree murder, attempted murder and assault, has not formally entered a plea. Prosecutors have yet to say whether they intend to seek the death penalty if he were convicted.
(Edited by Steve Gorman)