Planned Parenthood shooting suspect can be forcibly medicated

Robert Lewis Dear
Andy Cross/The Denver Post via AP, Pool
Robert Lewis Dear is led out of court at the end of proceedings by an El Paso County Sheriff’s deputy and his lawyers Kristen Nelson, left, and Rose Roy after Dear’s court appearance on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Update: Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022

Two days after a judge ordered that he could be forcibly medicated, the attorneys for Robert Dear filed an emergency motion asking the courts to stay, or delay enforcing, the decision. They also filed an appeal.

Dear's counsel said he would be "irreparably injured absent a stay" and that forcible injection or medication was a violation of his liberty. They also alleged the medication could adversely impact his health and well-being.

The document requests the stay be granted while Dear's appeal is pending.

Original story: The suspect in a 2015 attack on a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood can be forcibly medicated in an effort to bring his case to trial.

The case against 64-year-old Robert Dear has been in legal limbo for years as he’s been repeatedly deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial. During a hearing last month, prison psychologists argued medication could make it possible for him to participate in his defense, a requisite for going to trial.

Dear has been diagnosed with delusional disorder, which is generally treated with antipsychotic drugs.

In documents released today, Federal Judge Robert E. Blackburn wrote that involuntarily medicating Dear is the only "realistic means by which he is substantially likely to be restored to competence, so he and the government can participate in a fair and lawful criminal trial of the serious charges in this case." 

Dear argued against the forced medication, claiming he had a heart attack as a side effect while being treated at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo. Court documents say there is no evidence he suffers from significant cardiovascular disease. He has refused to take medication.

Dear is accused of killing three people and injuring eight others in the November 2015 attack on the clinic. He is facing 68 charges in his federal case, including using violence to prevent others from receiving reproductive health care services, which is a violation of the Federal Access to Clinic Entrances, or FACE, Act. Dear also faces several weapons charges. Those federal charges are in addition to 179 counts at the state level.

Federal court documents say Dear intended to "wage war" on the clinic because it offered abortion services. He was armed with a dozen guns, more than 500 rounds of ammunition, and several propane tanks. During an outburst at an early state hearing, Dear declared that he was a “warrior for the babies.”

If convicted, Dear could face the death penalty. 

Blackburn ordered a follow-up evaluation in January of 2023.