Jared Lee Loughner ruled incompetent to stand trial
The ruling by a federal judge effectively ends legal proceedings against the suspect in the Arizona shooting spree that killed six and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Jared Lee Loughner appears in a booking photograph released by the U.S. Marshals Service. (Reuters)
TUCSON, Ariz. -- A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Jared Lee Loughner was incompetent to stand trial, all but ending, for now, legal proceedings in the January shooting spree that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
After studying reports from two mental-health experts who examined the 22-year-old defendant, Judge Larry A. Burns ordered that Loughner be kept in custody and stopped any federal trial unless Loughner were to be rehabilitated later and be able to understand the charges against him and assist in his own defense. The charges carry the potential of the death penalty
The ruling also appears to put on hold any state trial against Loughner, as local authorities say they will not be able to try him until after he is either convicted or acquitted in federal court.
Loughner was ordered removed from the courtroom after an outburst. Reporters heard him shout, "She died in front of me," "Thank you for the freak show" and, "You're treasonous."
Loughner was examined by a staff psychologist at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo., and a forensic psychiatrist in San Diego. Both agreed that at this time he was unfit mentally to stand trial.
The reviews were sought due to Loughner's emotional problems and bizarre behavior before the shootings, including changes in his personality and alleged drug and alcohol abuse.
Loughner was arrested in the Jan. 8 shooting at a Tucson parking lot, where Giffords was holding a weekend constituents meeting. Among the six killed was John Roll, a federal judge who happened to be visiting the event.