DENVER (AP) — A man accused of killing three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado in 2015 is incompetent to stand trial, a federal judge ruled Thursday, delaying U.S. prosecutors’ efforts to bring the suspect to trial after he was repeatedly deemed incompetent in state court.
U.S. District Court Senior Judge Robert Blackburn found Robert Dear incompetent during a brief hearing in Denver. Neither prosecutors nor the defense contesting the finding — but Dear did, as he has on past occasions, The Denver Post reported.
“I’m opposing it; I’m not crazy,” Dear shouted via a video feed from a mental health facility in Missouri. He was diagnosed in 2016 with a delusional disorder that has caused him to believe for decades that the FBI was persecuting him.
Dear, 63, is accused of killing three people and wounding eight others during the Nov. 27, 2015, attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.
Authorities have said Dear planned to wage “war” on the clinic because it performed abortions. Dear arrived at the clinic with multiple firearms and more than 500 rounds of ammunition, prosecutors have said.
Dear has been declared mentally incompetent to stand trial because he lacks a rational understanding of the case against him and is too distrusting of his attorneys to aid in his defense. That judgment has been affirmed multiple times.
Dear had been undergoing treatment at a state psychiatric hospital aimed at restoring him to competency before undergoing the federal evaluation.
Killed in the shooting were Garrett Swasey, a University of Colorado Colorado Springs campus police officer who rushed to the clinic to help, and Ke’Arre Stewart, 29, and Jennifer Markovsky, 35, who were accompanying friends to the clinic.
Four police officers were wounded during a five-hour standoff. Police eventually rescued 27 people who were hiding inside the clinic during the attack.
Blackburn ordered that Dear continue receiving mental health treatment to determine if he “will attain the capacity to permit the proceedings to go forward.”
After state proceedings were repeatedly stalled by incompetency findings, federal prosecutors brought 68 criminal counts against Dear in 2019, including use of a firearm during a crime resulting in death and violating a law ensuring access to clinic entrances. They sought their own mental evaluation.
Dear was first found legally incompetent in May 2016. The rulings mean he cannot understand the charges he faces or help in his own defense. Dear, however, repeatedly has insisted that he is competent.