The self-proclaimed Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooter suffers from a delusional disorder - one revolving around his fears that FBI agents have harassed and spied on him for decades, state mental health evaluators said Thursday.
Robert Lewis Dear Jr.'s diagnosis was revealed in court as two state psychologists testified he is incapable of making informed decisions and should not proceed to trial.
The testimony came during an all-day competency hearing to determine if the case against Dear, 58, should continue or be placed on hold while he is sent for medical treatment.
A review conducted in January and February found that "not only did he (Dear) have a mental illness, but his mental illness is affecting his functional abilities," according to Jackie Grimmett, who with a colleague twice examined Dear at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo. The psychologists also reviewed more than 1,000 pages of police reports, numerous jail phone call recordings, jail security footage and more than seven hours of taped interviews.
Grimmett testified that Dear has a factual understanding of the court case, but not a rational one - raising concerns that he would be unable to assist in his defense.
Dear, who occasionally interrupted court with corrections and clarifications, shouted in defiance when testimony shifted to his supposed delusions. He referenced calling a radio station to decry President Barack Obama as the Antichrist.
"You don't think they're going to check that out?" he said, referring to the FBI. "Wake up, people!"
Grimmett's report - prepared with fellow state psychologist Thomas Gray - was released to attorneys in March, but contents weren't disclosed publicly until Thursday's hearing.
Prosecutors requested the hearing last month, indicating they intend to challenge the results of the state hospital's findings.
In disputing testimony, prosecutors focused on signs that Dear has closely followed his court proceedings and appears to understand the issues. Grimmett faced an exacting cross-examination by 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May, who suggested that religious convictions and political beliefs propelled Dear's actions, not mental illness.
Undeterred, Grimmett said Dear would be capable of communicating and performing daily obligations despite what she called his "serious mental illness." She found evidence that Dear tends to incorporate new players and events into his conspiracies, which she said are colored by religious convictions but not solely motivated by them.
Gray said Dear's beliefs rose to the level of delusions because of "the way we saw them escalate and play out" during their meetings with the defendant.
Presiding judge Gilbert Martinez, chief judge of the 4th Judicial District, is expected to decide the issue. The hearing was continued until 1 p.m. May 10, though it's not clear if Martinez will rule at the conclusion of the hearing or in a written ruling at a later date.
In other revelations Thursday, a police detective said Dear is mistrustful of his attorneys because they want to mount an insanity defense.
In a March 27 phone call from jail, Dear told a friend an insanity claim "diminishes his cause and it was important for him to save the babies," Colorado Springs police detective Jerry Schiffelbein testified.
"He wants no part in that," Schiffelbein said, adding the defendant is fearful his attorneys and the judge are in league to ensure that he is locked away in a bid to "silence him forever."
Schiffelbein, the lead detective in the case, described Dear's surrender after the Nov. 27 ambush and detailed the lengthy interrogation that followed his arrest.
During those interviews, Dear unspooled an elaborate explanation for the attack, claiming the FBI has been tailing him for more than 20 years - ever since Dear telephoned a radio program after a deadly 1993 standoff in Waco, Texas, and referred to the agency as the "Federal Bureau of Incineration."
He said the FBI surveillance was stepped up in 2014, after the defendant began spreading the word about a YouTube video that identifies President Barack Obama as a satanic figure, citing the Bible verse Luke 10:18 as support for the claim.
FBI surveillance included using his radios to spy on him and planting information in fake radio broadcasts, Schiffelbein said he was told. Dear said agents sneaked into his home in Hartsel and cut holes in his clothing, leaving behind feathers as a cryptic calling card.
On Nov. 27, Dear was at a hospital in Woodland Park with his girlfriend, Stephanie Bragg, when he reached the conclusion that the federal agency was preparing a direct confrontation.
Dear said he decided to make his stand against the FBI at Planned Parenthood, which he described as the "most evil" place on earth, Schiffelbein said.
The claims to police were similar to those Dear has made to media outlets, including The Gazette, during phone interviews from jail.
On cross examination, however, prosecutor Donna Billek elicited testimony that during a March 27 call to a supporter, Dear described the claims about the Book of Luke as a "sideshow," and told her that "abortion is the real issue."
In building the case that Dear is competent, Billek led the detective to recount how Dear repeatedly acknowledged and waived his rights, even reciting portions of his Miranda advisement before Schiffelbein could read it to him.
Dear's interviews with police, and his jail phone calls, were lucid, even "articulate," Schiffelbein testified.
"I did not observe anything that gave me concern that he didn't understand what was going on," Schiffelbein said.
The testimony comes after months of speculation about the accused gunman's mental fitness - specifically, whether he is competent to stand trial. The issue centers on whether Dear understands the nature of his court proceedings and whether he can assist in his defense - not whether he was sane or insane at the time of the shootings.
If Martinez rules Dear is not mentally competent, the case would be delayed indefinitely while Dear is treated at the state hospital in Pueblo.
Dear faces 179 counts, including murder and attempted murder, in the five-hour standoff. According to Schiffelbein, he had sought to kill as many police officers as possible, even trying to fake a suicide so that he could ambush responding police.
Before attacking Planned Parenthood, Dear claimed he fired shots at the El Paso County Sheriff's Office on Vermijo Avenue. Schiffelbein said surveillance footage shows him stopping his pickup outside the offices, though the detective did not disclose if investigators found evidence of gunfire.
Ke'Arre Stewart, Jennifer Markovsky and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police officer Garrett Swasey died at the women's clinic. Nine other people - five of them law enforcement officers - were wounded in the firefights that ensued.
Dear appeared in court Thursday with unkempt hair, and with his hands shackled. As has become routine, Dear interjected more than a dozen times during the testimony - none as forcefully, however, as when he protested that he wasn't a "nut case."