Gunman in clinic killing charged with murder

Robert L. Dear, 57, the suspect in the Nov 27 shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado that killed three people and wounded nine.
Robert L. Dear, 57, the suspect in the Nov 27 shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado that killed three people and wounded nine.PHOTO: AFP

COLORADO SPRINGS • A drifter has been charged with first-degree murder over a shooting spree that killed three people and wounded nine at a family planning centre in Colorado.

Robert Lewis Dear, 57, made his first court appearance via video link from the El Paso County jail in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he is being held, wearing what appeared to be a protective vest.

He stood impassive next to his attorney as the judge advised him of his rights, read the charge against him and set another hearing in the case for Dec 9, when formal charges will be filed.

Several relatives of those killed or wounded in last Friday's shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic watched the proceedings.

Dear faces a minimum of life in prison and a maximum sentence of the death penalty over the killings which have revived the debate in the United States over both gun control and abortion.

Investigators have yet to publicly explain his motive, but several US media outlets, citing law enforcement officials, reported that he mentioned "no more baby parts" when questioned. The officials said Dear's "rantings" also included comments about politics and President Barack Obama.

Ms Vicki Cowart, head of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said witnesses confirmed that he "was motivated by opposition to safe and legal abortions".

The rampage killed police officer Garrett Swasey, 44, and two others - Ms Jennifer Markovsky, 35, a mother of two; and Mr Ke'Arre Marcell Stewart, 29, an Iraq War veteran and father of two.

Several vigils were held at the weekend in Colorado Springs, a place known for its conservative politics and fundamental religious groups.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2015, with the headline 'Gunman in clinic killing charged with murder'. Print Edition | Subscribe