Subscribe

Suspect in Planned Parenthood attack makes 1st appearance

Public defender Daniel King, who represented Colorado theater shooter James Holmes, stood beside suspect Robert Lewis Dear, and will act as his attorney.

  • close
    Colorado Springs shooting suspect, Robert Dear, right, appears via video before Judge Gilbert Martinez, with public defender Dan King, at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center for this first court appearance, where he was told he faces first degree murder charges, on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
    Daniel Owen/The Gazette via AP, Pool
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

The man accused in the shooting rampage at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic made his first court appearance Monday and learned that he will face first-degree murder charges in the deaths of three people killed in the standoff with police.

Speaking in a raspy voice, Robert Lewis Dear appeared via a video hookup from the El Paso County Jail, where he has been held since surrendering after Friday's five-hour siege.

The white-bearded suspect wore a padded vest with black straps and gazed downward during most of the hearing. Victims' relatives watched from a courtroom.

When asked by Chief District Judge Gilbert Martinez if he understood his rights, Dear replied, "no questions."

Public defender Daniel King, who represented Colorado theater shooter James Holmes, stood beside Dear and will act as his attorney. The suspect is expected to be formally charged on Dec. 9.

Dear, 57, is accused of fatally shooting a university police officer who responded to the attack, as well as an Iraq war veteran and a mother of two inside the clinic. Nine other people were wounded.

After Monday's hearing, District Attorney Dan May said Dear could face other charges, but he did not elaborate.

Police have declined to speculate on a motive for the attack. A law enforcement official said Dear told authorities, "no more baby parts," after being arrested. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not allowed to publicly discuss the ongoing investigation.

Planned Parenthood has said witnesses believe the gunman was motivated by his opposition to abortion. But Dear has been described by acquaintances as a reclusive loner who did not seem to have strong political or social opinions.

The Colorado district attorney said he has been in touch with U.S. Attorney John Walsh's office about the case. Walsh said investigators have been consulting with the Justice Department's civil rights and national security divisions, a move that suggests authorities could pursue federal charges in addition to state homicide ones. He did not elaborate.

One possible avenue could be the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which makes it a crime to injure or intimidate clinic patients and employees.

Whatever authorities decide about motive is sure to be controversial, given the political murkiness of Dear's statements and the debate over Planned Parenthood, which was reignited in July when anti-abortion activists released undercover video they said showed the group's personnel negotiating the sale of fetal organs.

A Republican congressional leader on Monday defended a House investigation of Planned Parenthood's provision of fetal tissue to researchers.

But House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, also indicated that the GOP-run Congress will not risk a government shutdown fight with President Barack Obama over GOP efforts to halt federal funding for the organization.

McCarthy contested suggestions by Planned Parenthood defenders that harsh language from the organization's critics has helped create a hostile political environment. Planned Parenthood gets about a third of its annual $1.3 billion budget from Washington. Federal money cannot be used to finance abortions except in rare cases.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK