Psychologists call suspect in clinic shooting delusional

The man arrested for killing three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado has believed for decades the FBI is persecuting him.

FILE - In this Dec. 9, 2015 file photo, Robert Lewis Dear, middle, talks during a court appearance in Colorado Springs, Colo. (Andy Cross/The Denver Post via AP, Pool, File)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A man who acknowledges killing three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic has a delusional disorder that has caused him to believe for decades that the FBI is persecuting him and that President Barack Obama is the Antichrist, two forensic psychologists testified Thursday.

They also said Robert Dear, 57, is mentally incompetent to stand trial because he lacks a rational understanding of the case against him and is too distrusting of his attorneys to aid in his defense.

Judge Gilbert Martinez made no decision at day’s end about whether Dear is competent. Testimony will continue next month.

If Martinez decides that Dear is incompetent, his case would be put on hold while he undergoes treatment at a state psychiatric hospital intended to restore him to competency.

Dear is charged with 179 counts, including murder, attempted murder and assault in the Nov. 27 shootings at the Colorado Springs clinic, where nine people were injured.

During courtroom outbursts, he has declared himself a “warrior for the babies” and said he was guilty. He told investigators he attacked the clinic because he was upset with the reproductive health organization for “the selling of baby parts.”

Martinez ordered a competency exam after Dear announced he wanted to fire his public defenders and represent himself.

In phone calls from jail, Dear told people he believes his attorneys’ attempt to have him declared incompetent is part of a plot to diminish his message opposing abortion. He claims they want him committed to a psychiatric hospital so they can “silence him forever.”

“He cannot trust anyone, basically,” Thomas Gray, one of the psychologists who evaluated Dear, testified Thursday. “He’s quick to include anyone into that list of suspect individuals.”

Another psychologist, Jackie Grimmett, testified that Dear’s steadfast belief that FBI agents were out to get him led him to move from North Carolina to an isolated community in the Colorado mountains, where he lived in a trailer with no electricity so he would be left alone.

Pressed by prosecutors, Grimmett also said Dear told her that he moved to Colorado to partake in its legal marijuana market and smoked a joint daily.

Dear is deeply spiritual, often citing biblical passages, but some of his irrational beliefs are more a sign of his delusional disorder than his faith, she said, describing him as uncooperative and leery during his evaluation.

Dear frequently disrupted the psychologists’ testimony with outbursts. At one point, he said authorities “went overboard” with the charges against him, a sign that prosecutors argued shows that Dear understands the court proceedings.

Both psychologists testified that people with delusional disorders can carry on conversation and seem rational. But Dear’s mental illness is so severe it is impairing his ability to function, they said.

Dear believed his neighbors were FBI pawns and that agents had even converted his longtime girlfriend into a government spy, the psychologists said.

Earlier Thursday, Colorado Springs police Detective Jerry Schiffelbein testified Dear made a number of phone calls from jail, telling people he believed federal agents were following him for days before he decided to make his last stand by attacking Planned Parenthood, a place the detective said Dear called the “evilest place on Earth.”

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