COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The man accused in the shooting rampage at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic made his first court appearance Monday and learned that he will face first-degree murder charges in the deaths of three people killed in the standoff with police.
Speaking in a raspy voice, Robert Lewis Dear appeared via a video hookup from the El Paso County Jail, where he has been held since surrendering after Friday's five-hour siege.
The white-bearded suspect wore a padded vest with black straps and gazed downward during most of the hearing. Victims' relatives watched from a courtroom.
When asked by Chief District Judge Gilbert Martinez if he understood his rights, Dear replied, "no questions."
Public defender Daniel King, who represented Colorado theater shooter James Holmes, stood beside Dear and will act as his attorney. Dear is expected to be formally charged on Dec. 9.
Dear, 57, is accused of fatally shooting a university police officer, Garrett Swasey, who responded to the attack, as well as Ke'Arre Stewart, 29, an Iraq War veteran and father of two; and Jennifer Markovsky, 36, a mother of two. Nine other people were wounded.
After Monday's hearing, District Attorney Dan May said Dear could face other charges, but he did not elaborate.
Police have declined to speculate on a motive for the attack. A law enforcement official said Dear told authorities, "no more baby parts," after being arrested. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not allowed to publicly discuss the investigation.
Planned Parenthood has said witnesses believe the gunman was motivated by his opposition to abortion. But Dear has been described by acquaintances as a reclusive loner who did not seem to have strong political or social opinions.
The Colorado district attorney said he has been in touch with U.S. Attorney John Walsh's office about the case. Walsh said investigators have been consulting with the Justice Department's civil rights and national security divisions, a move that suggests authorities could pursue federal charges in addition to state homicide ones. He did not elaborate.
One possible avenue could be the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which makes it a crime to injure or intimidate clinic patients and employees.
Whatever authorities decide about motive is sure to be controversial, given the political murkiness of Dear's statements and the debate over Planned Parenthood, which was reignited in July when antiabortion activists released undercover video they said showed the group's personnel negotiating the sale of fetal organs.