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Admitted Planned Parenthood killer misses hearing; murder prosecution in limbo

November 21, 2017 Updated: November 21, 2017 at 4:53 pm
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Note: Get courtroom updates from @lancebenzel on Twitter. You can see his tweets at the bottom of this article (mobile readers) or to the right (desktop).

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COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - December 09: Robert Dear Jr. appears in court on December 09, 2015 where El Paso County prosecutors filed formal charges against him in the Planned Parenthood attack during which University of Colorado Colorado Springs police officer Garrett Swasey, Iraq war veteran Ke'Arre Stewart and Jennifer Markovsky, mother of two were killed on November 27, 2015. Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post

Days from the two-year anniversary of a deadly attack on Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, the admitted shooter was again found too disturbed to be prosecuted.

Robert Lewis Dear Jr., 59, wasn't present Tuesday during a regularly scheduled court update about his mental state.

Fourth Judicial District Chief Judge William Bain said an appearance by Dear wasn't necessary because state psychiatrists released an Oct. 25 report finding that he remains unable to understand the charges against him or to assist in his defense, leaving Dear's prosecution in legal limbo. The hearing marked the seventh time Dear, who has been diagnosed as delusional, has been found mentally incompetent.

Under state law, competency reviews are held every 90 days. His next review was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Feb. 13.

People accused of murder who are judged to be incompetent can be held indefinitely.

Dear faces 179 counts in the Nov. 27, 2015, attack that killed three people - including a police officer - and wounded nine others at the city's lone Planned Parenthood clinic.

The bearded anti-abortion zealot has repeatedly admitted responsibility, including at an early court appearance where he called himself a "warrior for the babies." The Hartsel transplant has also described longstanding fears that he has been surveilled by the FBI for his political beliefs, according to investigators and multiple interviews with media outlets.

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