SHOOTING
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Law enforcement escort people from the scene during the shooting at a Planned Parenthood on Centennial Blvd., in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Friday, November 27, 2015. Photo by Daniel Owen.

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A court battle to forcibly medicate Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Lewis Dear Jr. could hinge on changing a Pueblo judge’s mind about the potential for harmful side effects, prosecutors indicated in court on Friday.

“One of the concerns right now is how the medications may affect his health, or the side effects of the medications on his health,” District Attorney Dan May said after a brief hearing in 4th Judicial District Court.

Dear, 61, was found legally incompetent for the 13th time — raising questions if he will face a judge or jury in the Nov. 27, 2015, rampage that killed three people and wounded nine in north Colorado Springs.

Dear was initially found incompetent to stand trial in May 2016, when a judge determined that he is too delusional to understand the court process or to assist in his defense, and that judgment has been affirmed at 90-day intervals since.

The effort to force medications on Dear, against his will, is being handled by the Pueblo County Attorney’s Office, which represents the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, where he remains held for treatment.

Prosecutors said they anticipate that the Pueblo County Attorney’s Office will file a new round of motions soon, again seeking forced medication. Experts say Dear’s delusional disorder could respond to certain medications but that there are few guarantees and that progress could take months or even years to achieve.

The fight over the nature of his treatment has largely been waged in secret due to state and federal privacy rules.

In 2017, a Pueblo court granted the state hospital permission to force medication on Dear, but that order expired amid an appeal by the defense.

May’s comments suggest that a Pueblo judge denied the most recent bid to medicate Dear, which culminated with a February hearing at the state hospital.

Under state law, Dear can be held indefinitely on suspicion of first-degree murder while undergoing treatment.

Although the defense is eligible to petition the court to declare him permanently incompetent, no such request has been made, May said.

Reporter

I cover legal affairs for The Gazette, with an emphasis on the criminal courts. Tips to lance.benzel@gazette.com

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