Alleged Planned Parenthood shooter may be forcibly medicated, appeals court rules


An appeals court has upheld a federal district judge’s decision to force Robert Dear to take psychiatric medication — an attempt to restore the alleged 2015 Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooter to sufficient mental competency to stand trial. 

It’s the latest incremental step in a nearly decade-long series of pre-trial legal wranglings regarding the man accused of killing three people and wounding eight others. 

Dear has been diagnosed with delusional disorder, leading to repeated findings of his inability to participate in his own defense. The disorder is often treated with antipsychotics. 

In September 2022, Federal Judge Robert E. Blackburn ruled Dear could be involuntarily medicated after prison psychologists testified the drugs could make it possible for him to understand the charges against him. At the time, Dear argued against the forced medication, claiming he had a heart attack as a side effect while being treated in Pueblo. 

Attorneys for Dear appealed the 2022 ruling but the U.S. 10th Circuit appellate court upheld Blackburn’s decision on Monday, finding the district court provided enough evidence for the possible effectiveness of forcibly medicating Dear.

“We are not left with the ‘definite and firm conviction that the district court erred’ in determining that involuntary medication was substantially likely to restore Dear to competency,” wrote Circuit Judge Nancy Moritz in the Monday decision.

Defense attorneys have not yet signaled if they will attempt the difficult path to further appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court or petition for a rehearing in the case.

Dear is facing 68 federal charges and 179 state charges in the wake of the November 27, 2015, attack in which Dear was allegedly armed with a dozen guns and more than 500 rounds of ammunition. Documents say Dear wanted to “wage war” on the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood due to its offering of abortion services. 

Federal prosecutors have said they will not seek the death penalty against Dear.

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa — the 24-year-old accused in the 2021 Boulder King Soopers shooting — was found competent to stand trial last summer after he was forcibly medicated at a facility in Pueblo. Alissa’s trial is scheduled for September, where he has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.