Robert Lewis Dear is charged with 179 felony counts, including murder, attempted murder
Dear has said in court that he is a "warrior for babies"
He believes the FBI cuts holes in his clothes and leaves feathers in his home. That Robin Williams told a joke about President Obama, the “antichrist,” and committed suicide two weeks later. That President Obama will declare martial law and rebuild himself as the antichrist.
Those are just some of the “delusional beliefs” accused Colorado Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Lewis Dear shared with a detective who interviewed him after his November arrest.
Based on those statements and others Dear made to psychologists, a Colorado judge ruled on Wednesday that Dear was mentally incapable of participating in the case against him.
After two days of hearings in April and May, 4th Judicial District Judge Gilbert Martinez deemed Dear incompetent to stand trial for the time being. The ruling puts the criminal case on hold while Dear undergoes treatment at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo to restore him to competency, Martinez said.
Seeking to dispel perceptions that the ruling might indefinitely stall proceedings, Martinez told reporters after Wednesday’s hearing that “competency is a determination of the defendant’s current mental status.” Every 90 days hospital staff will send a report to the court on his status and whether they believe he is competent to stand trial. The first one is due August 11.
“Nobody has said that he is permanently incompetent,” Martinez said. It’s not unusual that people are restored to competency. “There are cases where people have been found permanently incompetent. Those are rare situations.”
Dear, 57, is charged with 179 felony counts including murder and attempted murder in the November 27, 2015, shootings at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.
‘You shouldn’t have come here today’
Dear entered the clinic before noon on the day of the shooting, police said. He was wearing a homemade ballistic vest made of duct tape and silver coins and carrying four SKS rifles, according to police documents.
He approached his first victim outside the clinic parking lot with a message.
“You shouldn’t have come here today,” he said. Police said he then shot her multiple times.
From inside the clinic he held authorities at bay for nearly six hours, killing one police officer and two civilians before he was arrested, police said.
Dear told a detective that he dreamed of being met in heaven by aborted fetuses who would thank him for his actions, according to documents released by investigators. He called President Barack Obama “the antichrist” and told investigators he “thought highly” of a man accused of killing an abortion provider and his bodyguard in Florida.
Coherent but delusional
Martinez ordered Dear to undergo a mental competency evaluation in December after his public defender raised questions about his competency.
Dear has repeatedly interrupted proceedings with outbursts, shouting at his attorneys and the judge, muttering to himself and declaring his guilt. Dear told the court in a December 9 hearing, “I am a warrior for the babies.” In a subsequent hearing Dear tried to fire his court-appointed lawyer, who also defended Aurora movie theater shooter James Holmes. Dear indicated he would not cooperate with the mental evaluation, telling Martinez, “I’m not going to say one word to them.”
Martinez noted in his ruling that Dear’s behavior was but one factor in his conclusion, in addition to evidence and testimony from two psychologists and the detective.
The psychologists told the court that Dear has long suffered from a “delusional disorder” that impairs his ability to have a “rational understanding” of the proceedings. Although he appears to understand the judicial process his “delusional beliefs are informing his decisions and his decisions are not based on logic,” the judge said in his ruling, paraphrasing the testimony of Dr. Jackie Grimmett.
His delusional thinking also impairs his ability to work with counsel, the judge concluded.
“Although he exhibited sufficient factual knowledge of the legal system and relevant personnel, his persecutory belief system is significantly impairing his ability to consult his lawyer,” the judge said, quoting Grimmet’s competency evaluation.
Prosecutors disputed that his behavior rose to the level of incompetency. Under cross-examination from prosecutors, Grimmet said Dear had an intact memory, appeared coherent and goal-oriented and familiar with facts of the case.
Martinez said he sided with Grimmet’s view that one can conduct daily aspects of life and still suffer from a delusional disorder.
As he was escorted out of the courtroom on Wednesday, according to CNN affiliate KKTV, Dear yelled at Martinez, calling him a “filthy animal.”