DENVER — A federal judge will hold a hearing starting Tuesday to determine if Robert Dear, the mentally ill man charged with killing three people and wounding eight others at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic in 2015, should be forcibly medicated so he can be put on trial.
His prosecution in state court, and then federal court, has been stalled for years because he has repeatedly been found mentally incompetent to stand trial after he was diagnosed with delusional disorder. Federal prosecutors said he's refused to take antipsychotic medication and are asking U.S. District Judge Robert E. Blackburn to order that Dear be given medication against his will, according to the Associated Press.
Dear needs to be found competent to stand trial on the charges against him.
In a court filing, prosecutors said they expected Dear’s lawyers to argue that serious medical problems prevent him from being treated with antipsychotic medication. According to prison medical records, Dear has reported that he suffered a heart attack while taking such a drug years ago but prosecutors said they could not find any record to back that up, according to a prosecution filing obtained by the AP.
It’s not known when the judge will rule on whether Dear should be forcibly medicated, as the hearing may last several days.
On Nov. 27, 2015, Dear allegedly shot several people in the parking lot of a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, forced his way inside the clinic, and attacked more people inside before barricading himself. After a five-hour standoff in which he allegedly fired nearly 200 rounds, including at nearby propane tanks, Dear was taken into custody.
He is accused of fatally shooting 44-year-old University of Colorado in Colorado Springs Police Officer Garrett Swasey, 36-year-old Jennifer Markovsky, a mother of two, and Ke'Arre Stewart, a 29-year-old Army veteran and father of two. Eight others were injured.
Dear was charged with 179 counts, including murder and attempted murder.
He told police he attacked the clinic because he was upset with Planned Parenthood for “the selling of baby parts,” according to state court documents.
During a December 2015 hearing, he claimed, in an outburst, to be "a warrior for the babies" and admitted guilt, saying there was no need for a trial.
The case has been in limbo since May 2016, when a judge determined that Dear was mentally incompetent to stand trial.
The Colorado Supreme Court said in June 2018 that it would not review a lower court's ruling that Dear could be given medication against his will.
On Dec. 9, 2019, he was indicted by a federal grand jury on 68 counts: 65 counts of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act) and three counts of use of a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death where the killing is a murder, according to the indictment.
He faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life behind bars. The U.S. Department of Justice ruled in December 2020 that Dear would not face the death penalty.
Dear remains at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.
Colorado law allows Dear to be held indefinitely on suspicion of first-degree murder while undergoing treatment. His mental health will continue to undergo regular reviews.