Judge’s rul­ing blocks details in Dear case

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Jesse Paul

A judge has blocked vic­tims of last year’s Planned Par­ent­hood shoot­ing ac­cess to crim­i­nal dis­cov­ery in the case against the ac­cused gun­man, say­ing Robert Dear’s right to a fair trial out­weighs their in­ter­ests in a law­suit against the health care provider.

Fourth Ju­di­cial Dis­trict Chief Judge Gilbert Martinez wrote in a rul­ing handed down last month that a pro­tec­tion or­der is­sued in the civil case is not suf­fi­cient to keep details of Dear’s pros­e­cu­tion from get­ting out to the pub­lic.

“Grant­ing ac­cess to dis­cov­ery to non­par­ties at the present time would un­nec­es­sar­ily risk com­pro­mis­ing the in­tegrity of the crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings and the de­fen­dant’s right to a fair trial,” Martinez wrote in the Nov. 23 rul­ing.

The pros­e­cu­tion against Dear is in limbo as he re­mains in­def­i­nitely in­com­pe­tent to stand trial. Lawyers in the civil suit have said that with­out in­for­ma­tion from the crim­i­nal case and in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Dear — in­clud­ing po­lice re­ports, pho­tos and video — it is un­likely their case can pro­ceed.

Martinez, in his rul­ing, said he will al­low the lawyers in the civil case ac­cess to po­lice his­tory re­ports from the Planned Par­ent­hood clinic in Colorado Springs. El Paso County prose­cu­tors and Dear’s de­fense team both op­posed the re­lease of in­for­ma­tion to lawyers in the civil case.

“The Court is mind­ful of the fact that be­cause of the de­fen­dant’s in­com­pe­tency sta­tus there is no spe­cific date as to when the crim­i­nal mat­ter will pro­ceed for­ward,” Martinez wrote. “Thus, the Court is open to re­vis­it­ing the is­sue at a later date. How­ever, at this early stage of the pro­ceed­ings a re­lease of the in­for­ma­tion is not ap­pro­pri­ate.”

Three vic­tims and the wife of a man killed in the shoot­ing have joined the civil suit, which al­leges Dear’s at­tack was both pre­dictable and pre­ventable. It was ini­tially filed in Den­ver Dis­trict Court in May. They in­clude Mandy Davis and Ammar Laskar­wala, who took an Uber from Den­ver to the clinic the morn­ing of the Nov. 27, 2015, shoot­ings.

Laskar­wala was shot in the chest.

The law­suit was first filed by Sa­man­tha Wag­ner, who was shot in the arm dur­ing the at­tack, and Ke’Arre Ste­wart’s wi­dow, Ashley, and on be­half of the cou­ple’s child.

Dear faces 179 counts — in­clud­ing eight charges of first-de­gree mur­der — for the shoot­ings. He is ac­cused of open­ing fire in the clinic’s park­ing lot be­fore storm­ing inside with mul­ti­ple guns.

Be­fore the five-hour stand­off was over, three peo­ple were dead and nine oth­ers were trans­ported to hos­pi­tals with gun­shot wounds.

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