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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Loughner Is Still Not Competent for Trial

TUCSON, Ariz. (CN) - The suspect accused of a mass 2011 shooting that nearly took the life of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is still incompetent to stand trial, a federal judge ruled, finding that Jared Lee Loughner should receive at least four more months of treatment in a federal detention center.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns extended Loughner's competency restoration after a hearing in San Diego on Monday.

Doctors have diagnosed the 23-year-old suspect with schizophrenia, and he is being forcibly medicated at a Bureau of Prisons facility in Springfield, Mo., despite the repeated objections of his counsel.

In a competency report filed last week, Loughner's chief psychologist, Dr. Christina Pietz, told the court that her patient, while making progress, remained incompetent to assist in his own defense.

"In Dr. Pietz's opinion, the defendant remains incompetent to stand trial, in particular because he lacks an adequate understanding of the nature and consequences of the charges against him," a Feb. 2 order states. "Dr. Pietz does, however, believe that the defendant has made measurable progress toward competency, and that his mental state will continue to improve."

Loughner is charged with carrying out a shooting rampage on Jan. 8, 2011, that killed six people and injured 13.

Giffords, whom Loughner allegedly shot in the head, resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 25 to concentrate on her recovery.

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