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Federal prosecutors rule out death penalty in Robert Dear case

Posted at 12:03 PM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 14:19:01-05

DENVER — Federal prosecutors have ruled out the death penalty for the confessed gunman in the Colorado Springs 2015 Planned Parenthood shooting, according to a court filing submitted Wednesday.

The court was notified federal prosecutors would not be pursuing the death penalty for Robert Dear, who is facing 65 counts of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act and three counts of use of a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death where the killing is a murder.

Dear has been in federal custody in Denver and was indicted by a federal grand jury in December 2019 where he faced new charges and insisted he was competent to stand trial.

According to the indictment, Dear went to the Planned Parenthood clinic on Nov. 27, 2015, intending to wage "war" because the clinic offered abortion services, creating a five-hour standoff with several law enforcement and public safety agencies. Dear had with him four SKS rifles, five handguns, two additional rifles, a shotgun, more than 500 rounds of ammunition, as well as propane tanks.

Three people who were killed in the attack were UCCS Police officer Garrett Swasey, Ke-Arre Stewart, and Jennifer Markovsky. Eight others were injured, including four police officers.

He has been deemed incompetent to stand trial and represent himself each time in state courts – the first judgment coming in May 2016. Earlier this year, Dear told the judge during a competency review, "I am not crazy. I am just a religious zealot."

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has said in the past that if Dear is convicted in the federal case and if the death penalty is not considered, he could face a minimum of 10 years up to life in prison.

Previous competency hearings took place every 90 days, but under new law will be set for every 60 days though the pandemic has impacted court cases this year.

Robert Dear indicted by federal grand jury for 2015 Planned Parenthood shooting
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