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Judge orders mental exam in abortion doctor threat case


DENVER – A federal judge has ordered a mental competency evaluation for a Spokane man accused of threatening an abortion doctor in Boulder, Colo.

Donald Hertz, 70, appeared ready to plead guilty Monday to making an interstate threat and to violating a law protecting access to reproductive health services but then raised objections to a proposed plea deal. It was the second time Hertz had appeared in court for a change-of-plea hearing only to object to a proposed plea agreement.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger asked Hertz to clarify his misgivings Monday. Hertz responded with a story about getting coffee and a bun at a crowded Starbucks one morning.

After a recess, Krieger told both sides in the case to choose a mental health professional by week’s end to examine Hertz within the next few weeks.

Hertz is accused of calling Dr. Warren Hern’s clinic in Boulder on June 23 and threatening to kill members of Hern’s family. The call came within weeks of the slaying of Dr. George Tiller, who operated an abortion clinic in Wichita, Kan.

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