Judge: Colorado Planned Parenthood shooter incompetent to continue with criminal case

FILE - In this Dec. 9, 2015 file photo, Robert Lewis Dear talks to Judge Gilbert Martinez during a court appearance in Colorado Springs, Colo. The judge is set to rule on the mental state of Dear who acknowledged killing three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado. Martinez is expected to announce Wednesday, May 11, 2016, whether criminal proceedings should continue against 57-year-old Dear. (Andy Cross/The Denver Post via AP, Pool, File)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A man who acknowledged killing three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic is mentally incompetent to continue with his criminal case, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The decision by Judge Gilbert Martinez puts the case against Robert Dear, 57, on hold until his mental competency can be restored through treatment. He will be sent to the state psychiatric hospital, and his mental health will be reviewed in August.

As he was led out of the courtroom, Dear yelled at the judge: “That’s called prejudiced, filthy animal!”

The case will resume when Dear is found to be mentally capable of understanding the court proceedings and able to assist in his defense. He is charged with 179 counts, including murder and attempted murder, stemming from the Nov. 27 shooting at the Colorado Springs clinic that also left nine injured.

During courtroom outbursts, he has declared himself a “warrior for the babies” and said he was guilty. He told investigators he attacked the clinic because he was upset with the reproductive health organization for “the selling of baby parts.”

Martinez ordered the competency exam in December after Dear announced that he wanted to fire his public defenders and represent himself. His ruling came after two psychologists who interviewed Dear testified that they agreed he suffers from a delusion disorder and is not competent.

The evaluators said Dear’s disorder makes him believe the FBI is persecuting him and keeps him from trusting almost anyone, including his lawyers.

Dear told people in phone calls from jail that he believes his attorneys’ attempt to have him declared incompetent is part of a plot to diminish his message opposing abortion. He claims they want him committed to a psychiatric hospital so they can “silence him forever.”

He told the psychologists he did not want to be declared incompetent because it would mean “forced medication.”

Prosecutors argued that Dear’s courtroom disruptions showed he understood the case against him. They have not decided whether to seek the death penalty against the man described by family and acquaintances as a man with a violent temper, anti-government sentiments and longstanding disdain for abortion providers.

Recently released court documents show he idolized Paul Hill, an abortion foe who killed a Florida doctor more than two decades ago. Dear also told investigators he put glue in the locks at an abortion clinic when he lived in South Carolina, a common protest technique among activists trying to shut down such facilities.

He spent most of his life in North and South Carolina before moving recently to an isolated community in Colorado’s mountains, where he lived in a trailer with no electricity.

He held police at bay for more than five hours during the attack, scattering hundreds of post-Thanksgiving shoppers who scrambled to hide inside surrounding buildings until the standoff ended.

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