The saga of Robert Lewis Dear seems to be heading in a predictable direction. You no doubt recall the mass shooting at the Colorado Planned Parenthood offices where Dear murdered one police officer and two civilians in addition to inuring others. He’s been under observation for a while now and held in custody while awaiting trial, but that phase of the proceedings will need to wait for a bit longer. Dear has been found to be mentally incapable of participating in his own defense. (CNN)
He believes the FBI cuts holes in his clothes and leaves feathers in his home. That Robin Williams told a joke about President Obama, the “antichrist,” and committed suicide two weeks later. That President Obama will declare martial law and rebuild himself as the antichrist.
Those are just some of the “delusional beliefs” accused Colorado Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Lewis Dear shared with a detective who interviewed him after his November arrest.
Based on those statements and others Dear made to psychologists, a Colorado judge ruled on Wednesday that Dear was mentally incapable of participating in the case against him.
Whoa. Even in the community of the criminally deranged you’d probably find some people giving Dear the side eye and saying, that guy is just weird. But is he really? If it’s an act it’s a darned good one because he and his attorney were able to convince multiple medical professionals as well as a judge. I’m not ruling it out, of course. Some criminals are incredibly clever and can pull off a stunt like that, at least for a time. But the more likely possibility is that this guy has simply become unhinged from reality.
But even if it does turn out to be an act he’ll need to keep it up. The court isn’t dismissing the case on the grounds of insanity. Dear will be reevaluated every 90 days for the foreseeable future. If some regimen of drugs and counseling manage to snap him out of it he will still have to stand trial, at which point we’ll find out if he can use his mental instability to somehow obviate the penalties he would normally face for such horrific crimes.
The other thing we may learn as this process drags on is how long it took for Dear to go off the rails and when, precisely, he lost his grip on the real world. You’ll recall that Dear was able to legally purchase the weapons he used in the attack because there was nothing of interest in his history which would have ever shown up during a background check. He had no criminal record of note and there was no medical history of mental health issues. No law currently under serious contemplation would have caught this in time and prevented it, but at some point the guy purchased a tiny shack out off the grid and seems to have spun out of control.
For now there’s not much more to do but give it another three months and see if Robert Dear is ready to face a jury. If not, we may wind up with a long term ward of the state stuck in some home for the criminally insane.