By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - A gunman deemed mentally unfit to stand trial for killing three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last year said in a courtroom outburst on Tuesday that he is being "forcibly" drugged at a state hospital.
Robert Lewis Dear, 58, made the claim as he was being led into an El Paso County courtroom for a hearing on issues related to his criminal case, which has been on hold while he undergoes treatment in an effort to restore him to mental competency.
Dear is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder and assault stemming from the November 2015 shooting rampage at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs that also left nine others wounded.
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He surrendered after a bloody five-hour siege and standoff with police.
Shackled and appearing much thinner than in previous court appearances, the bearded South Carolina native said the judge has “put me in the nuthouse; forcibly medicated me,” and was going to “censor the media.”
At issue during Tuesday’s hearing was what of Dear’s medical records the state hospital has to turn over to prosecutors.
A hearing was conducted in a different county last week about whether he should undergo “involuntary treatment.”
El Paso County District Attorney Dan May declined after Tuesday’s hearing to discuss the outcome of those proceedings, so it is unclear if Dear was forced to take medications against his will.
Dear has interrupted every proceeding where he has been present with outbursts about his anti-abortion views, including one instance where he proclaimed his guilt and said he was a “warrior for the babies.”
The rambling statements led El Paso County District Court Judge Gilbert Martinez to order Dear to undergo a competency examination.
Two state psychologists concluded that the onetime self-employed art dealer suffers from a psychotic delusional disorder that renders him incapable of meaningfully assisting in his own defense.
Martinez agreed, and in May ruled that Dear was incompetent and ordered him to undergo treatment at the state mental hospital in Pueblo in an effort to restore him to competency.
Under Colorado’s competency statute, the state hospital must report back to the judge every 90 days on his progress.
Dear is due back in court next month for a second review of his mental status, and other issues including a motion by defense lawyers that seeks to bar him for speaking to the news media.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Tom Brown)