Competency hearing resumes for accused Colorado clinic gunman
By Keith Coffman
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Reuters) – The man who proclaimed himself a “warrior for the babies” after a fatal shooting spree at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last year returned to court on Tuesday for the second day of a hearing on his mental state.
Prosecutors sought to challenge the conclusion of state psychologists that Robert Lewis Dear, 58, suffers from a psychotic delusional disorder that renders him unfit to stand trial for the rampage that killed three people and wounded nine.
El Paso County Judge Gilbert Martinez said he would issue a decision on Dear’s status on Wednesday. A ruling of mental incompetence would mean the suspension of criminal proceedings in a case stemming from the first fatal attack on a U.S. abortion provider since 2009.
Psychologist B. Thomas Gray insisted under prosecution questioning that while Dear is capable of understanding the proceedings against him, he is irrational and thus fails to meet the second test of legal competency: the ability to assist in his defense.
Gray is one of two court-appointed psychologists who evaluated Dear. On April 28, Gray testified during the first day of the competency hearing that Dear was delusional.
Separately, defense lawyer Dan King mentioned the existence of jailhouse video footage that shows his client smeared with his own feces and drinking his own urine from a toilet because he believed the jail was poisoning his drinking water.
As he has during past proceedings, Dear repeatedly interjected his own comments. The judge warned him during a testy exchange that Dear risked being removed if he continued.
Martinez ordered Dear’s mental evaluation in December after the South Carolina native insisted on firing his attorney and representing himself.
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, the defendant will be sent back to a state hospital where doctors will seek to restore him to competency.
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 a U.S. Army veteran and a mother of two who happened to be in the waiting area, and a police officer.
Dear has not formally entered a plea. Prosecutors have yet to say whether they would seek the death penalty.
(Editing by Steve Gorman and David Gregorio)