DENVER – A man who has been ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial in state court in the killing of three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood Clinic in 2015 is now facing federal charges.
U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn in Denver announced the federal grand jury indictment Monday against Robert Dear in the shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic.
Three people died, including a police officer, and eight others were injured in the Nov. 27, 2015, attack. Dear has publicly acknowledged killing the people, but a judge ruled him to be incompetent to stand trial in state court. His mental health status is reviewed every 90 days.
The new federal charges include 68 counts, including use of a firearm during a crime resulting in death and violating a law ensuring access to clinic entrances. Dunn said in a statement that, if convicted of the counts announced Monday, Dear could face up to the death penalty.
Dear, 61, told a Denver federal magistrate judge on Monday that he understood his rights. The judge postponed the remainder of the advisement hearing until Friday after Dear insisted he be allowed to represent himself.
Dear declared, “I’m not crazy. I’m just a religious zealot,” KMGH-TV reported.
Dear was in federal custody after being taken from a state mental hospital in Pueblo, where he has been held since the shooting.
Dear is charged with 179 state counts, including murder and attempted murder.
He was first found legally incompetent in May 2016.
Dunn cited that delay as a factor in pursuing the federal case against Dear. He said there is a five-year statute of limitations involving violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. The 1994 act makes it a crime to injure or intimidate clinic patients or employees.
Dunn said he consulted with local prosecutors.
“The dozens of victims of this heinous act, as well as the Colorado Springs community itself, deserve justice,” Dunn said in his statement.
Dan May, the district attorney handling the state case from Colorado Springs, said he supported the federal case even as the state case remains open. Dear’s next appearance in state court is set for Jan. 9.
Dear could face a minimum of 10 years in prison if convicted of the federal charges, Dunn said . No decision has been made on whether to seek the death penalty.
Dear was accused of fatally shooting a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police officer who tried to stop the attack, an Iraq war veteran and a mother of two inside the clinic.