The admitted Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Dear was not in court Monday, but a judge ruled he is still mentally incompetent to stand trial.
Dear has been held at the Colorado Mental Health Institute Pueblo, deemed incompetent, since May 2016. A court ruled recently he can be forcibly medicated.
Dear is charged with 179 counts, including murder and attempted murder, stemming from the Nov. 27, 2015 shooting.
Typically when a suspect is deemed incompetent, the state tries to restore that person to competency if possible.
But attorney David McDivitt, who is not involved with the case, said the process takes time.
“From an outsider’s perspective who wants to see justice done and wants to see somebody brought to trial, it can be very frustrating when one sees that somebody’s just sitting there in this continuous cycle of competency hearings, competency evaluations,” McDivitt said. “At some point there may be a finding, by a psychiatrist, of what they call permanent incompetency. That’s a finding that the person’s just permanently incompetent, and won’t be able to ever really understand the nature of the charges against them.”
If that’s the case, the prosecution will typically try to get them forcibly committed to a mental facility.
Oftentimes, housing a patient in a mental facility is much more expensive than in prison.
“If they got a case that’s strong against somebody, they are going to do everything they can to make sure that person doesn’t walk free,” McDiivitt said. “There are societal costs on both sides.”
According to the Colorado Department of Human Services, the average cost per day for an adult inpatient at the Colorado Mental Health Institute Pueblo is $666. The cost per day for the jail-based competency program is approximately $310.
“There are obviously societal costs for having somebody who’s capable of committing a heinous crime out on the streets again,” McDivitt said. “So for the most part, we got to foot the cost to keep all of us safe.”
At this point, Dear will continue to receive evaluations every 90 days. The next hearing to review Dear’s status is scheduled for July 27.