By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) – The man accused of killing three people at a Colorado abortion clinic in 2015 was declared on Thursday to be mentally unfit for trial on federal charges for the shootings, the same conclusion a state court judge reached in likewise ruling him incompetent.
Robert Lewis Dear (63), was taken into federal mental health custody in Missouri. He appeared via videoconference for the hearing at U.S. District Court, Denver.
Dear broke into a Planned Parenthood clinic, Colorado Springs, on November 27, 2015. He opened fire from the outside, before charging inside the building.
Dear has admitted to the shootings in several state court hearings, including one outburst in which he proclaimed himself “a warrior for the babies,” a reference to his anti-abortion beliefs.
Two psychologists appointed by the state court to evaluate Dear were able to diagnose him with paranoid disorder. They said that he was mentally unfit for trial. Dear was declared mentally incompetent after the judge of state court ruled that he could understand the circumstances but couldn’t contribute to the defense.
In 2019, Dear was indicted in federal court, which prosecutors hoped might advance the case, but Thursday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn put any prosecution of Dear in further doubt.
Blackburn stated in a lengthy written statement that he relied on the findings of a forensic assessment conducted by a court appointed psychologist.
Blackburn said Dear suffers from an unspecified mental disease that makes him incapable of grasping “the nature and consequences” of the criminal proceedings, and thus unfit to meaningfully assist in his defense or act as his own attorney.
According to the Denver Post, Dear disrupted the hearing by shouting “I’m against it; I’m still not insane.”
Dear faces 65 charges of violating Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. There are also three counts of using firearms in violence resulting to murder. This is a major offense.
A spokesman for U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver said prosecutors had no comment on the ruling. The federal public defenders’ office does not comment publicly on its cases.
Dear will be facing 179 criminal cases in state court. This includes first-degree killing of three persons and multiple charges of attempted murder, assault, and murder.
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