By Keith Coffman
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Reuters) - Lawyers for the man declared mentally unfit to stand trial for a fatal shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado last year lost their bid on Thursday for a court order to bar him from communicating with the news media.
Robert Lewis Dear's defense team took the unusual step of essentially seeking a gag order for their own client, saying his penchant for giving press interviews could undermine his right to a fair trial if he were found competent to face prosecution in the future.
"Some journalists have demonstrated a willingness to publish and broadcast statements made by Mr. Dear despite his obvious mental illness,” his attorneys said in their motion.
As an example, Dear told a Denver television station he intends to plead guilty and expects to be executed. During an earlier court appearance, he proclaimed himself guilty and “a warrior for the babies.”
But El Paso County District Judge Gilbert Martinez said he would deny the defense request, while also stating that Dear, 58, was still "not competent to proceed" in the criminal case against him.
Following Thursday's proceedings, Dear was to return to a state mental hospital for further "restorative treatment." His status will be reviewed again in another 90 days, at a hearing in February.
Dear has been held without bond since surrendering after a bloody five-hour siege on Nov. 27, 2015, at the Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs, where he opened fire while armed with several guns.
The mother of two small children and a military veteran who happened to be in the clinic's waiting area were killed, along with a police officer. Nine other people were wounded.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Dear told police detectives afterward that he believed the souls of aborted fetuses would thank him for stopping more abortions when he gets to heaven.
Prosecutors have charged the South Carolina native with multiple counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder and assault in the shooting.
Martinez declared Dear to be mentally incompetent in May after two psychologists testified that the onetime self-employed art dealer suffered from a psychotic delusional disorder. The judge said Dear's mental state rendered him unable to meaningfully assist in his own defense.
Dear, who has insisted he is competent, launched into a verbal tirade as he was led into the courtroom on Thursday. “Four-thousand babies are murdered every day by Planned Parenthood,” he said in a loud voice. “Think about that.”
(Editing by Steve Gorman and David Gregorio)