FILE PHOTO: Robert Lewis Dear, 57, accused of shooting three people to death and wounding nine others at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last month, attends his hearing to face 179 counts of various criminal charges at an El Paso County court in Colorado Springs, Colorado December 9, 2015. REUTERS/Andy Cross/Pool
(Reuters) – A man accused of fatally shooting three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado in 2015 was indicted by a U.S. grand jury on dozens of federal charges that could result in the death penalty, U.S. prosecutors said on Monday.
Robert Dear, 61, was taken into custody early on Monday at the State Mental Hospital in Pueblo, Colorado, and was scheduled to appear before a U.S. magistrate in Denver later in the day.
Dear, who was previously charged with multiple state counts of murder and dozens of additional crimes in the shooting in Colorado Springs, has repeatedly been deemed by an appeals court to be mentally unfit to stand trial.
The accused gunman said during previous court appearances that he was guilty, proclaiming himself “a warrior for the babies.” His outbursts prompted Judge Gilbert Martinez of Colorado’s El Paso County Court to order a mental evaluation of the suspect.
On Monday, Jason Dunn, the U.S. attorney for Colorado, announced 65 counts of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act plus three counts of using a firearm in an act of violence resulting in death where the killing is a murder. The statue of limitations on prosecuting under the FACE act would have expired five years after the shooting.
The U.S. Attorney’s office said no decision had been made on whether to seek the death penalty. It was unclear if Dear had legal representation.
The indictment issued on Monday said Dear went to the Planned Parenthood clinic in November 2015 armed with an arsenal of rifles and handguns with the intent to wage “war” because the center provided abortion services.
The suspect shot and killed two people before barricading himself inside the clinic where he surrendered after an hours-long standoff with law enforcement during which he fatally shot a police officer, authorities said.
“The dozens of victims of this heinous act, as well as the Colorado Springs community itself, deserve justice,” Dunn said.
Reporting by Maria Caspani in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney