Jared Lee Loughner - Ariz. shooting suspect.
Jared Lee Loughner made an angry courtroom outburst Wednesday. Image: dybender/Flickr/CC BY

Jared Lee Loughner, the man accused of a Jan. 8 shooting spree in Tucson, Ariz., has been ruled incompetent to stand trial. U.S. Marshals dragged Loughner out of the courtroom Wednesday following an angry outburst.

Tucson shooting killed six, wounded 13

The shooting spree occurred Jan. 8 outside a supermarket where U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was holding a community meeting.  Loughner allegedly opened fire, leaving six people dead, including a 9-year-old girl and U.S. District Judge John Roll. Thirteen other people were wounded, including Rep. Giffords (D), who continues to recover from her head injuries. Loughner has pleaded not guilty to all of the 49 federal charges he received from the Jan. 8 shootings.

A mumbled outburst

Although mumbled and unclear, during a pretrial hearing the 22-year-old defendant seemed to say, “Thank you for the freak show. She died in front of me.” It was not clear to whom he referred.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns asked Loughner if he wished to remain in the courtroom and behave, or to watch on a TV screen in another room. Loughner replied, “I want to watch the TV screen.”

Survivors present in the courtroom

At least two survivors of the attack were in the courtroom and heard the outburst. Present was Pam Simon, Gifford’s aide, who was shot in the chest and right wrist. Also in attendance was retired Army Col. Bill Badger, who who was grazed by a bullet on the back of his head. Badger is one of the people who helped subdue Loughner after the attack.

Defendant deemed not competent

Today’s hearing was a result of prosecutors asking Judge Burns in March to order an examination to determine whether Loughner was competent enough to stand trial. Burns made his decision after Loughner was examined by a psychologist from the Prison Bureau, as well as a court-appointed expert. Both concluded that Loughner was incompetent. “The defendant was not able to comprehend the charges,” Burns ruled.

Four months at federal facility

Loughner will be sent to a federal facility for four months or until doctors are convinced of his competency. His next hearing has been set for Sept. 21. His stay can be extended if it is determined he is still not competent after the four-month period. There is no limit to the number of times the stay can be extended.

Mental condition key to proceedings

It is unclear whether Loughner’s lawyers plan to argue an insanity defense. In court filings, however, they describe him as a “gravely mentally ill man” and indicate that his mental condition will be a central concern during the trial.

Sources

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/25/jared-loughner-tucson-shooting_n_866723.html

Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-25/giffords-shooting-suspect-loughner-taken-out-of-courtroom-after-outburst.html

CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/05/25/arizona.loughner.competency/?hpt=T1

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