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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Loughner to be Tested in Missouri

ST. LOUIS (CN) - An Arizona federal judge ordered Jared Lee Loughner to undergo psychological testing at a Missouri federal prison, and wants the results delivered to the court by May 11. Loughner is accused of killing six people and injuring 13, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in a Jan. 8 shooting rampage.

U.S. District Judge Larry Alan Burns ordered Loughner's exam to be conducted at the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Springfield, Mo., no later than April 29.

Loughner's attorneys argued against moving him to Missouri, saying it could harm his mental state and his defense team's effort to build an attorney-client relationship, but Burns found that the Missouri facility was the best place for the exam.

"The question at issue is whether the defendant is presently suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him, or to assist properly in his defense," Burns wrote.

Burns relied on a memo written by Dr. Donald Lewis as a basis for his decision. Lewis, chief of psychiatry for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, wrote that the Missouri prison is the best alternative because it "has medical staff available for neurology and other organic testing, and has far more forensic staff and full-time psychiatrists available to provide round-the-clock assistance."

Loughner, 22, has pleaded not guilty to 49 federal charges. Congresswoman Giffords was shot in the head and is recovering from brain injuries at a Houston, rehabilitation center.

U.S. District Judge John Roll was killed.

The exam will focus only on whether Loughner is competent to stand trial.

It will not examine his sanity at the time of the shootings.

Springfield is 215 miles southwest of St. Louis.

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