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Dear Could Face Death Penalty In State And Federal Court

By Rick Sallinger

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – Robert Lewis Dear, the suspect in the Nov. 27 shooting at Planned Parenthood, could face the death penalty in both state and federal court.

Dear appeared before an El Paso District court judge Monday.

The shooting spree took multiple lives, including that of a police officer. It involved an ambush and was conducted in a cruel and heinous manner.

El Paso District Attorney Dan May said the decision will come within two months after a plea is entered. He told reporters “So a question like will we seek the death penalty. It’s not a question I can answer now.”

Robert Lewis Dear in court with public defender Dan King on Nov. 30, 2015. (credit: CBS)

Robert Lewis Dear in court with public defender Dan King on Nov. 30, 2015. (credit: CBS)

Standing at the defendant’s side in court was public defender Dan King. He was one of the attorneys who represented Aurora theater shooting trial defendant James Holmes. The insanity defense failed but Holmes was spared from the death penalty.

Now comes Robert Dear. University of Denver adjunct professor and Legal Analyst Karen Steinhauser told CBS4 the defense team may consider that.

“They are probably going to have them evaluated by private doctors. In any event I think we are going to see mental health issues come into play,” Steinhauser said.

The defendant, Dear, reportedly said, “No more baby parts” as he was taken into custody. That could have been a reference to controversial recordings made at Denver Planned Parenthood and elsewhere by an anti-abortion group.

As far as federal charges go, the laws federal authorities are looking at include hindering access to an abortion clinic, hate crime and/or domestic terrorism.

The federal investigation is expected to take longer than the state case and any prosecution would follow a state trial.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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