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Man accused of Colo. Planned Parenthood shooting remains incompetent for trial

Citing a report from a Colorado hospital, a state judge on Thursday said the man accused of a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic last year remains mentally incompetent to stand trial, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/11).

Colorado law requires a state mental hospital to update the judge every 90 days regarding the mental state of a defendant who is found incompetent. The hearing on Thursday was the first competency review for the suspect, Robert Dear (Coffman, Reuters, 8/11).

Shooting incident details

Dear allegedly opened fireat a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in late November 2015. Since surrendering, Dear has been held without bond.

One police officer and two civilians were killed during the assault. An additional five police officers and four civilians were injured.

Dear has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and first-degree assault.

Case background

In late December 2015, Judge Gilbert Martinez ordered a mental competency examination after Dear said he wanted to represent himself and that he did not trust his public defender. The purpose of the evaluation was to determine whether Dear understands the case and is mentally able to waive his right to an attorney and represent himself.

In April, Martinez heard testimony from two forensic psychologists, both of whom said Dear suffered from delusions and should be considered incompetent. The psychologists testified that inability to rationally comprehend the lawsuit and his distrust of his attorneys is cause to deem him mentally incompetent to stand trial.

According to detectives who interviewed Dear following the shooting, Dear did not want to accept a mental illness defense because he thought it would undermine his intended message, which he said was to protest abortion rights.

In May, Martinez found Dear was not mentally competent to stand trial. Martinez in the May order cited an assessment that determined Dear was "currently incompetent to proceed" because he has "a mental disability or developmental disability" that limits his ability to understand the trial rationally and consult with his lawyers. Martinez said although Dear could comprehend the facts of the case, his delusions and paranoia prevent him from meaningfully assisting in his defense (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/12).

Dear remains incompetent

Rob McCallum, a spokesperson for the Colorado Judicial Branch, said Martinez during Thursday's hearing read from the state mental hospital's report determining that Dear remains mentally unfit for trial.

Dear was not present at Thursday's hearing but will attend the second review, scheduled for November.

At the November hearing, defense lawyers will argue two motions filed on Dear's behalf. One motion asks the court to block Dear from contacting any news media. The other motion requests that the defense receive 30 days' notice if a psychiatrist chooses to medicate Dear involuntarily. Dear has indicated he would "not willingly ingest psychotropic medication" (Reuters, 8/11).