August 23, 2017 Updated: Today at 6:49 am
Admitted Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Lewis Dear Jr. could learn Thursday whether a new judge will end his legal limbo.
Dear’s prosecution has been on hold for more than a year while he receives treatment at the Colorado State Mental Health Institute at Pueblo. Now he’s due to appear before 4th Judicial District Chief Judge William Bain, who appointed himself to the case in July as former Chief Judge Gilbert Martinez prepared to retire Aug. 1.
Whether Bain agrees with the opinion that the Hartsel man is too disturbed for a trial could become clear at the hearing, which is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m.
Dear, 59, is charged with 179 counts in a Nov. 27, 2015, shooting rampage at Colorado Springs’ lone Planned Parenthood clinic. Three people were killed, including a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police officer, and nine were wounded.
Police say he confessed during his surrender at the end of a five-hour standoff, and he has claimed responsibility during courtroom outbursts and through repeated interviews with media outlets including The Gazette, calling himself a “warrior” for unborn children but also ranting about doomsday prophecies and claims that he was the target of a decades-long conspiracy involving federal law enforcement agents.
Citing state psychiatrists’ opinion that Dear is unable to separate delusions from reality, Martinez first ruled Dear incompetent to proceed in May 2016.
The judge reaffirmed his decision four more times, at 90-day intervals, based on assessments by the state hospital about Dear’s mental health.
While Dear’s treatment is private, the restive defendant has complained in court about efforts to force-medicate him – claiming he had received a “chemical lobotomy.” Forced medications can be effective in treating delusional disorders, experts previously told the newspaper, though estimates vary as to how long it could take to restore Dear to competency.
Under Colorado law, defendants charged with first-degree murder and found to be incompetent can be held for the rest of their lives.