A man who acknowledges killing three people in an attack on a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic defiantly told a judge Wednesday that he would not submit to a mental competency evaluation and wanted to fire his public defender and represent himself.
Robert Lewis Dear, 57, interrupted Judge Gilbert A. Martinez at a status hearing as the judge was ordering the evaluation.
"I want to be my own attorney," Dear told the judge at the outset the hearing in El Paso County court.
Dear said competency evaluators would want to "administer the drug treatment and make me a zombie."
"Do I sound like a zombie? Do I sound like I have no intelligence?" he asked the judge.
Martinez advised Dear to trust his lawyer.
"How can I trust my attorney when he says I'm incompetent in the newspaper?" Dear replied.
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."
In a court appearance earlier this month, Dear declared himself guilty and a "warrior for the babies."
Prosecutors also objected to the competency evaluation. One argued that Dear had made it clear that he understood the proceedings and the charges against him.
A backlog of orders for such evaluations made it unclear when the exam could be completed.
Attorneys who are not involved in Dear's case say it isn't unheard of for defendants to refuse to participate in a competency evaluation, but they can be forced to attend even if they don't answer questions.
Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty against Dear for the first deadly assault on a U.S. abortion provider in six years — since the 2009 assassination of a doctor at a Kansas church. Three people, including a police officer, were fatally shot and nine were wounded; no Planned Parenthood staff were killed or injured in Colorado Springs.
Dear, who has been held without bond since surrendering at the end of a bloody-five hour siege, faces 179 counts, including first-degree murder, attempted murder and other charges stemming from the Nov. 27 attack at the clinic. At a court appearance earlier this month, he called himself "a warrior for the babies" and objected to the sealing evidence in his case.
In addition, he repeatedly interrupted his own attorneys and accused them of conspiring with Planned Parenthood to cover up wrongdoing by the reproductive health organization.
Authorities have revealed little about the preparations behind the attack.
Dear held police at bay for more than five hours in the attack that also caused the evacuation of 300 people from businesses surrounding the clinic.