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Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Dear Jr. remains incompetent to stand trial, judge says

May 21, 2018 Updated: May 21, 2018 at 4:55 pm
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COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - December 09: Attorney Kristen Nelson ,left, and an El Paso County Sheriff's deputy along with defendant Robert Dear Jr. stand for a recess during a court appearance 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

Admitted Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Lewis Dear Jr.'s legal limbo will stretch into a third year without a trial date in sight.

Two years after Dear, 60, was declared mentally unfit for trial, 4th Judicial District Chief Judge William Bain reaffirmed the decision Monday, keeping the defendant confined to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo for the foreseeable future.

Dear's defense team waived his right to appear at the brief hearing.

Bain said little, mentioning only that he based his decision on the latest report from Dear's treatment team, which again found Dear incompetent, meaning he does not have a "rational" understanding of the court process.

The judge's decision means Dear's prosecution will remain on hold in the Nov. 27, 2015, shooting at Colorado Springs' lone Planned Parenthood clinic. The Hartsel resident declared himself a "warrior for the babies" after storming the center and unleashing semi-automatic rifle that killed three people, including a police officer, and wounded nine more during a five-hour standoff. He is charged with 179 counts.

The widow of Garrett Swasey, the slain police officer from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, was among several victims' relatives at the hearing.

State psychiatrists say Dear has spent decades in the grip of a delusional disorder involving fears that he is under surveillance by the FBI, which he accused of planting listening devices in his home in a converted RV because of comments he made years ago on a radio program.

Dear has refused medication and fought repeated efforts by the Pueblo County Attorney's Office to force him to be medicated for the disorder.

Pueblo district judge's decision last year cleared the way for forcing medication on Dear, but the ruling is blocked by an ongoing appeal, District Attorney Dan May said outside the courthouse.

In January, a state appeals panel upheld the lower court's order, but it remains on hold pending word from the Colorado Supreme Court whether it will hear an appeal by the Colorado State Public Defender's Office, which is defending Dear.

Dear can be held indefinitely, up to the rest of his life, on the first-degree murder charges.

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