A mentally ill man accused of shooting at Planned Parenthood in Colorado could be forcibly drugged

DENVER (AP) — A mentally ill man accused of killing three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado in 2015 because it offered abortion services can be subject to involuntary treatment, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit upheld an order issued by a federal judge in 2022 allowing 66-year-old Robert Dear to be administered drugs for a delusional disorder against his will in an effort to restore him to a healthy enough state to stand trial.

Dear’s federal public defenders challenged the compulsory medication order issued by U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn, in part because it allows for the potential use of force to force Dear to take medication or undergo monitoring for potential side effects to his physical health.

Dear’s lawyers argued that forcing Dear into treatment for a delusional disorder could worsen health conditions, including untreated high blood pressure and high cholesterol. However, in their appeal, they said the Blackburn decision giving prison doctors the right to involuntarily treat or monitor for other ailments is “miles” away from the limited use of involuntary medication allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The defense questioned why Blackburn did not explain why he omitted the opinions of his experts who testified during a hearing on whether Dear should undergo involuntary treatment in 2022. But a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit found that Blackburn had sufficiently explained that he placed greater weight on the opinions of government experts because of their experience in restoring defendants to competency and his personal experience working with Dear.

Dear has previously stated that he is a “warrior for children” and also expressed pride in the “success” of his attack on the clinic during one of many outbursts at the beginning of the hearing.

After Dear’s prosecution stalled in state court because he was repeatedly found mentally incompetent to stand trial, he was charged in federal court in 2019 under the 1994 Freedom of Entry Act.

The two people killed in the attack were with friends at the clinic – Ke’Arre Stewart, 29, an Army veteran who served in Iraq and was the father of two children, and Jennifer Markovsky, 36, a mother of two who grew up in Oahu , Hawaii. The third person killed was a nearby college campus police officer, Garrett Swasey, who called the clinic after hearing there was an active shooter.

Colleen Slevin, Associated Press