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Planned Parenthood shooting suspect ruled incompetent in federal case, too

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Planned Parenthood shooting suspect ruled incompetent in federal case, too

A federal judge on Thursday declared the suspect in a 2015 mass shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic to be mentally incompetent, ending the prosecution’s hope that a criminal case brought in federal court could go forward after the state’s case had stalled.

Robert Dear, 63, has admitted to killing three people at the clinic, but the state’s case against him stalled beginning in 2016 after he repeatedly was found mentally incompetent to proceed — that is, he could not comprehend the criminal case against him or participate in his own defense.

Federal prosecutors brought 68 criminal counts against Dear in late 2019 in an attempt to move forward with criminal proceedings. While the standards for determining mental competency in federal court are nearly identical to Colorado’s standards, federal courts have a reputation for finding incompetency less frequently than state courts.

On Thursday, Senior Judge Robert Blackburn declared Dear incompetent in a brief hearing at the Alfred A. Arraj United States Courthouse in Denver. The finding of incompetency was not contested by the prosecution or defense, though Dear himself disagreed.

“I’m opposing it; I’m not crazy,” he shouted at one point, appearing via video feed from a mental health facility in Missouri with his attorney.

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