Competency evaluation ordered for accused Planned Parenthood gunman

By Keith Coffman

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Reuters) - The man accused of killing three people and wounding nine others in a Nov. 27 shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado was ordered on Wednesday to undergo a psychiatric evaluation after he insisted on acting as his own lawyer.

Judge Gilbert Martinez ordered the evaluation to determine whether Robert Lewis Dear, 57, is fit to represent himself against murder and other charges. During the court hearing, Dear said he distrusted his lawyers and insisted on acting as his own attorney.

During a courtroom outburst at a hearing two weeks ago, Dear declared he was guilty and a "warrior for the babies," prompting his attorney to suggest that his client may not be competent to stand trial.

The defendant, a South Carolina native who once earned a living as a self-employed art salesman, stands accused of 179 felony counts, including charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder and assault.

"I want to be my own attorney," Dear told the judge at the outset of Wednesday's hearing El Paso County court.

Martinez admonished Dear that he should trust his attorney, but Dear argued against that.

"How can I trust him when he says in the newspaper that I'm 'incompetent?'" Dear asked the judge.

After calling a 10-minute recess to discuss the matter with Dear and his attorneys, Martinez ordered that Dear submit to examination at a state hospital to determine whether he is mentally competent to serve as his own attorney.

Dear strenuously objected, telling the judge he would refuse to cooperate with "your forced psychiatric evaluation," adding "I am not going to say one word to them."

The judge proceeded to recite legal requirements for competency evaluations in such proceedings, as Dear went on to periodically interject.

"It's your whim ... to take away my constitutional rights to represent myself," he blurted out at one point. He later said, "They're poisoning me."

Dear has been held without bond since he surrendered at the end of a bloody five-hour siege inside the Planned Parenthood clinic that police said began when he opened fire with a rifle outside the building and then stormed inside.

Killed in the rampage were a U.S. Army veteran and a mother of two who happened to be in the clinic's waiting area, as well as a policeman from a nearby university who rushed to the scene.

It was the first deadly attack on a U.S. abortion provider since 2009, when physician George Tiller was gunned down at the Kansas church he attended.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Steve Gorman and David Gregorio)