COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A man who has been repeatedly ruled incompetent to stand trial at the state level has now been indicted on 68 counts by a federal grand jury in connection with the deadly 2015 shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.
Robert Dear Jr. appeared in federal court in Denver at 2 p.m. Monday, where he was advised of his rights and the charges against him.
Dear, who also faces 179 state charges, is accused of shooting and killing three people and hurting nine others on Nov. 27, 2015, which was the day after Thanksgiving that year. A police officer and two civilians were killed; five police officers and four civilians were injured.
In court on Monday when asked by the judge if he understood his rights, Dear said, "yes, but I’m not incompetent. This is all a political kangaroo court. They don’t want me to go to trial and they’ve been drugging me …”
Dear's lawyer, however, said the last time he was tested he was deemed incompetent at that time.
The judge also asked if Dear received a copy of the indictment in this case.
Dear said he had just received a copy.
“He said I had 68 charges … I’m just … I’m not crazy I’m just a religious zealot," he said. “They’re afraid of what I know -- of the truth of the abortions and selling baby parts.”
Dear then told the judge he wanted to represent himself. His counsel interrupted, halted the advisement and asked to reset Dear's appearance for later in the week.
The judge granted the reset for 10 a.m. Friday, which will include Dear's initial appearance, arraignment, discovery, and detention hearing under a new Judge.
Dear's counsel asked that the judge not use Monday's court appearance to make a judgement about his mental competency.
"I assure you, I made no finding with respect to his competency," the judge replied.
“Judge can I say one more thing?" Dear asked in court. "I got car sick on the way here. For two hours they tried to make me sick so I can’t talk in court.”
"Where I can encourage the U.S. Marshall to engage in better driving habits, I will do so," the judge replied.
Dear will remain in custody of U.S. Marshall until his Friday appearance.
According to facts contained in the indictment, Dear traveled to the Planned Parenthood clinic intending to wage “war” because the clinic offered abortion services.
He had four SKS rifles, five handguns, two additional rifles, a shotgun, more than 500 rounds of ammunition, as well as propane tanks, according to the DOJ, and he fired approximately 198 bullets during the attack.
He now faces the following federal charges:
- 65 counts of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act)
- Three counts of use of a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death
If convicted at the federal level, Dear could face the death penalty, but a decision has not yet been made whether to pursue that option, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
If prosecutors do not seek the death penalty, Dear faces 10 years to life in prison. The DOJ said the decision was made to move forward now, in part, because there is a five-year statute of limitations under the FACE Act.
“The dozens of victims of this heinous act, as well as the Colorado Springs community itself, deserve justice,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn. “After four years of lengthy delays in state court, and in consultation with the 4th Judicial District Attorney and victims, this office made the decision to charge Mr. Dear.”
Dear is charged with 179 counts at the state level, including murder and attempted murder, but has yet to stand trial because he's been repeatedly ruled mentally incompetent.
He was initially found mentally unfit for trial in May 2016, when a judge determined he was too delusional to understand the charges against him or to assist in his defense. That judgment has been affirmed at 90-day intervals since then.
Dear was last ruled incompetent by a judge in November and is currently being treated at the state mental hospital in Pueblo.
Colorado law allows Dear to be held indefinitely on suspicion of first-degree murder while undergoing treatment. The state case against Dear is separate and will continue to move forward. Dear has a court appearance in that case on Jan. 9, 2020.
Officer Garrett Swasey, 44, who worked for the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs Police Department, Jennifer Markovsky, 36, and Ke’Arre Stewart, 29, were killed in the shooting.
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