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Arizona Shooting Spree Suspect Incompetent for Trial

Jared Lee Loughner has outburst; defense says he’s a ‘gravely mentally ill man’


Loughner declared unfit to stand trial (NBC Nightly News, May 25, 2011) — NBC’s Mike Taibbi reports on dramatic developments that took place Wednesday during a court hearing for accused Tucson gunman Jared Loughner. (01:03)

May 25, 2011

TUCSON, Ariz. — The man accused of wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killing six in a shooting rampage in Arizona is mentally incompetent to stand trial, a judge ruled Wednesday after two deputy U.S. marshals dragged the man out of the courtroom because of an angry outburst.

As survivors of the deadly January attack looked on, Jared Lee Loughner lowered his head, raised it and said what sounded like “Thank you for the freak show. She died in front of me.” His words were loud but indistinct, and it wasn’t clear who he was talking about. He wore a khaki prison suit and sported bushy, reddish sideburns.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns’ decision means the 22-year-old will be sent to back to a federal facility in Missouri for up to four months, where doctors will try to medicate him to see if they can restore his competency to a point where he understands the case against him.

The ruling came after Burns said two mental health professionals had concluded Loughner suffers from schizophrenia and is mentally unfit for trial.

Loughner spent five weeks in March and April at a federal facility in Springfield, Mo., where he was examined by psychologist Christina Pietz and psychiatrist Matthew Carroll. The two were asked to determine if Loughner understands the consequences of the case against him.

Burns viewed 18 hours of the experts’ videotaped interviews with Loughner. He said the experts’ reports and videos were confidential, but he summarized their findings at the hearing.

The judge said Carroll concluded Loughner’s mental health has declined in the past two or three years and his thinking on legal issues is confused. Carroll believes Loughner doesn’t grasp the gravity of the charges against him and is instead fixated on inconsequential issues.

Pietz concluded Loughner’s thoughts are random and that he suffers from delusions, the judge said. She noted Loughner gave nonsensical answers to questions and doesn’t understand the role of judges or jurors.

Neither expert thought Loughner was faking his mental health problems, with Carroll saying Loughner doesn’t want to be perceived as mentally ill. A hearing to revisit Loughner’s mental competency is set for Sept. 21.

Loughner has pleaded not guilty to 49 federal charges stemming from the Jan. 8 shooting at a meet-and-greet event that wounded Giffords and 12 others and killed six people, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge. …

Prosecutors had requested the mental exam, citing a YouTube video in which they believe a hooded Loughner wore garbage bags and burned an American flag.

The judge gave the two experts access to Loughner’s health records from his pediatrician, a behavioral health hospital that treated him for extreme intoxication in May 2006 and an urgent care center where he was treated in 2004 for unknown reasons.

Prosecutor Wallace Kleindienst said that in the next few days, Loughner will be sent back to the Missouri facility where he underwent five weeks of mental competency testing.

Loughner will stay at the facility for up to four months, and doctors will seek to medicate him to see if he improves, Kleindienst said. He added he didn’t know if Loughner would agree to be medicated.

If Loughner is later determined to be competent enough to understand the case against him, the court proceedings will resume.

If he isn’t deemed competent at the end of his treatment, Loughner’s stay at the facility can be extended. There are no limits on the number of times such extensions can be granted.

If doctors conclude they can’t restore Loughner’s mental competency, the judge must make another decision. If he finds there’s no likelihood of Loughner being restored to competency, he can dismiss the charges against Loughner. In that case, state and federal authorities can petition to have Loughner civilly committed and could seek to extend that commitment repeatedly, said Heather Williams, a federal public defender in Tucson who isn’t involved in the Loughner case.

Loughner’s lawyers haven’t said whether they intend to present an insanity defense. But they noted in court filings that his mental condition will likely be a central issue at trial and described him as a “gravely mentally ill man.” …

Full story

Video: In-depth analysis of legal ruling

Loughner declared not competent to stand trial (MSNBC “Martin Bashir,” May 25, 2011) — A federal judge has ruled that Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect in the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, is incompetent to stand trial. NBC’s Pete Williams and Mike Taibbi report. (05:22)


Related reports on this site

From left to right: Marana Unified School District, via Associated Press; Robert Blanco; Pima County Sheriff’s Office via the Arizona Republic, via Associated Press (Photo composite: The New York Times)

Jared Loughner Mental Exam (March 23, 2011)

Jared Loughner’s Mental State (Jan. 13, 2011)

The Psychological Profile of Giffords Shooter Jared Loughner
(Jan. 10, 2011)

Gabrielle Giffords Assassination Attempt (Jan. 9, 2011)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — May 25, 2010

Iraq-Afghanistan Casualties

One year ago today, I provided my weekly report of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Army Col. John M. McHugh, 46, Newark, N.J., died May 18, 2010 in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained in a suicide car bombing. He was assigned to the Army Battle Command Training Program, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Also killed in the same attack were Lt. Col. Paul R. Bartz, Lt. Col. Thomas P. Belkofer, Staff Sgt. Richard J. Tieman, Spc. Joshua A. Tomlinson, Canadian Col. Geoff Parker, and more than a dozen Afghan civilians.

Col. McHugh, a native of West Caldwell, N.J., graduated from James Caldwell High School in 1982 and went on to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He was a married father of five who had recently become a grandfather.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

Two years ago today on May 25, 2009 – Memorial Day — I paid tribute to the men and women of America’s fighting forces — both the living and the dead, and in particular those who gave their last full measure of devotion.

4 Responses to “Jared Lee Loughner Ruled Incompetent to Stand Trial”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » The Psychological Profile of Giffords Shooter Jared Loughner Says:

    […] Jared Lee Loughner Ruled Incompetent to Stand Trial (May 25, 2011) […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Jared Loughner Mental Exam Says:

    […] Jared Lee Loughner Ruled Incompetent to Stand Trial (May 25, 2011) […]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Jared Loughner’s Mental State Says:

    […] Jared Lee Loughner Ruled Incompetent to Stand Trial (May 25, 2011) […]

  4. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Giffords Assassination Attempt Says:

    […] Jared Lee Loughner Ruled Incompetent to Stand Trial (May 25, 2011) […]

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