The Colorado man who has claimed the slaying of three people during a shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs said during a court appearance Wednesday that he no longer wants to be represented by attorneys from the state public defender’s office.
“I do not want them as my lawyers. I invoke my constitutional right to defend myself,” Robert Lewis Dear said during the court hearing, according to the Associated Press. “How can I trust my attorney when he says I’m incompetent in the newspaper?”
Dear, 57, faces 179 counts, including first-degree murder, attempted murder and assault for the Nov. 27 shooting — which left three dead, including a police officer, and nine injured. If convicted, Dear faces a minimum sentence of life in prison and a maximum sentence of the death penalty.
Judge Gilbert Martinez ordered Dear to undergo a competency hearing, which will determine if he will be allowed to represent himself in court.
During a previous court appearance, Dear disrupted the proceedings — declaring “I am guilty” and calling himself a “warrior for the babies.” After the outburst, a defense attorney for Dear told the judge he was “serious concerns” about Dear’s competency to stand trial.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation has described the shooting as a politically motivated attack on Planned Parenthood, which is the nation’s most prominent provider of abortions.
Abortion rights advocates say there is a clear connection between the shooting and a series of covertly filmed videos alleging that Planned Parenthood illegally sells fetal tissue. Anti-abortion groups have condemned the shooting, denied any knowledge of Dear and stressed that he is not affiliated with their efforts.