- Associated Press - Thursday, March 24, 2016

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - A defense attorney for a man who acknowledges killing three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic asked a judge Thursday to commit his client to a psychiatric hospital for treatment but did not reveal whether a mental health exam found him competent to continue with his criminal case.

Judge Gilbert Martinez made no ruling on Robert Dear’s mental competency and instead set an April hearing on the issue at prosecutors’ request. The doctor who conducted Dear’s evaluation could be called to testify.

Dear, 57, is charged with 179 counts stemming from the Nov. 27 shooting at the Colorado Springs clinic, where he held police at bay for more than five hours, injuring nine others and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people from surrounding businesses.

The dead included a police officer from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and two people who were accompanying friends to the clinic separately.

In previous courtroom outbursts, Dear declared himself a “warrior for the babies” and said he was guilty. He sat quietly through Thursday’s short hearing, wearing neon-green jail scrubs and looking unkempt.

Martinez ordered the competency exam in December after Dear announced that he wanted to fire his public defenders and represent himself.

If the judge finds him mentally incompetent, the case would stall indefinitely so Dear could undergo treatment, resuming again when he is found to be capable of understanding the proceedings and assist in his defense.

Dear has not entered a plea, and prosecutors have not said whether they plan to seek the death penalty.

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