The alleged gunman in Friday’s shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood appeared in court for the first time today. KRCC’s Jake Brownell attended the hearing at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center, and has this report:
As reporters and cameramen awaited the first advisement hearing of Robert Lewis Dear, a line of squad cars formed across the street, in front of the El Paso County Coroner's office.
"This is one of the ways law enforcement honors one of their own," said El Paso County Sheriff's Department Spokeswoman Jacqueline Kirby.
Kirby explained that officers were preparing for a procession to transfer UCCS Officer Garrett Swasey’s body to a funeral home. Swasey was one of three people killed in the shootout. The procession was led by a black hearse.
It was a somber preamble to the first court appearance of Dear, which took place just 15 minutes later in the detention center across the street.
In a live videolink, Dear--a large man with a silver beard and unkempt gray hair--could be seen wearing a white padded vest with Velcro on the shoulders. He was flanked by Daniel King, an attorney with with the Colorado State Public Defender's office who recently defended James Holmes, the gunman in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting.
During Monday's 12 minute hearing, Presiding judge Gilbert Martinez advised Dear of his rights, and notified him of his initial charge.
"The initial charge against you is murder in the first degree, the penalty for that charge is minimum of life in prison, maximum of death."
District Attorney Dan May says other charges are still possible.
Dear spoke only three times during the hearing, and only to acknowledge that he could hear the judge and that he had no questions about his rights. Dear is due back in court December 9th.