COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4/AP) – Robert Lewis Dear, the suspect in the murderous rampage at a Planned Parenthood last Friday, appeared before a judge through a video link on Monday.
Dear, 57, who is being held without bond, is accused of killing a police officer and two civilians — an Iraq war veteran and a mother of two — who were accompanying separate friends to the clinic. The rampage touched off an hourslong standoff and shootout Friday that also left nine other people in the hospital.
Dear appeared before 4th Judicial District Chief Judge Gil Martinez in a “safety smock” with public defender Daniel King to hear the charges against him. The proceeding last approximately 10 minutes. King is a public defender who represented Aurora theater shooter James Holmes.
Martinez advised Dear of his rights and asked if he understood them to which Dear replied “yes.”
District Attorney Dan May said formal charges are expected to be filed on Dec. 9.
“That’s when my office will decide if and what charges should be filed, and if we file charges that will be the date that would occur,” May said. “If it’s first-degree murder it’s a mandatory no bond, meaning he cannot post bond and get out.”
May wouldn’t comment on if he will seek the death penalty saying that will be a decision made in a few months.
With local, state and federal officials investigating the case, May likened the case to the murder of Colorado Department of Corrections Executive Director Tom Clements in 2013.
“Unfortunately it’s similar to when we had Tom Clements murdered. When we had that a couple years ago, otherwise, yes, it’s obviously a high magnitude case,” May said.
Victims’ relatives sat in the courtroom during the hearing.
Colorado Springs police have declined to disclose any information on a motive for the attack, and a judge ordered the sealing of investigatory court documents at the request of prosecutors.
A law enforcement official said Dear told authorities “no more baby parts” after being arrested.
The official said the comment was among a number of statements Dear made to authorities after his arrest, making it difficult to know his specific motivation.
The law enforcement official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not allowed to publicly discuss the ongoing investigation.
U.S. Attorney John Walsh said investigators have been in touch with lawyers from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights and National Security divisions, a move that suggests officials could pursue federal charges in addition to state homicide ones. Walsh 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.
“The case may fit the criteria for a federal domestic terrorism case, but based on my experience, I would be very surprised if this is not simply a local prosecution,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, a former U.S. attorney and state attorney general.
Planned Parenthood said witnesses believe the gunman was motivated by his opposition to abortion.
Suthers, however, said it’s unclear whether the shooting was intended to send an ideological message.
Whatever authorities decide 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.
The organization has denied seeking any payments beyond legally permitted reimbursement of the costs for donating the organs to researchers.
Dear has been described by acquaintances as a reclusive loner who didn’t seem to have strong political or social opinions.
Neighbors who live near Dear’s former South Carolina home say he hid food in the woods and lived by selling prints of his uncle’s paintings of Southern plantations and the Masters golf tournament.
After he moved to Colorado, he once gave a neighbor pamphlets opposing President Barack Obama.
“He didn’t talk about them or anything. He just said, ‘Look them over when you get a chance,'” Zigmond Post said.
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