Loughner Found Incompetent for Trial Over Arizona Shootings

Wednesday, 25 May 2011 04:09 PM


May 25 (Bloomberg) -- Jared Lee Loughner, accused of killing six people and trying to assassinate a member of Congress in a Jan. 8 shooting spree in Tucson, Arizona, was ruled not competent to go on trial.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns issued his decision at a hearing today in federal court in Tucson. Loughner was examined by Bureau of Prison psychologists as well as by an independent, court-appointed expert, both of whom concluded he was incompetent. Lawyers on both sides declined to question the doctors who conducted the two examinations at today’s hearing.

Burns ordered that Loughner remain in U.S. custody for treatment for four months or until doctors determine he is competent. The judge scheduled a hearing for Sept. 21.

Prosecutors in March asked Burns to order an examination of whether the accused was competent to go on trial because video clips Loughner posted online suggested that he might have “mental issues.” In one video clip, a hooded and masked person, believed to be the suspect, is wearing garbage bags on his lower body and burning an American flag.

U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, was among 13 wounded at the shooting rampage outside a supermarket where she was holding a community meeting. Bystanders wrestled the suspect to the ground. Giffords survived a gunshot wound through her head. U.S. District Judge John Roll was among those killed.

Loughner, 22, has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder charges.

Loughner was removed from the courtroom today by marshals after he uttered an outburst at the start of the hearing. The judge said he could return to the courtroom if he was calm; he chose to watch the proceedings on closed circuit television.

Pima Community College on May 19 released e-mails by college administrators and campus police that detail Loughner’s behavior in classrooms last year, including “creepy stares” and challenging teachers, saying that he has a right to earn an “A” “regardless of what answers he gives because of free speech.”

Loughner told one counselor who questioned how he was acting in a math class that “my instructor said he called a number 6 and I said I call it 18.” He also asked the instructor “how can you deny math instead of accept it,” according to the email the counselor sent to campus administrators.

“He has extreme views and frequently meanders from the point,” according to the counselor’s report. “He seems to have difficulty understanding how his actions impact others, yet very attuned to his unique ideology that is not always homogenous.”

Loughner was expelled from the college in September.

The case is U.S. v. Loughner, 11-00187, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Tucson).

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