Accused Tucson shooter returned to Missouri hospital

Reuters News
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Posted: May 27, 2011 10:23 PM
Accused Tucson shooter returned to Missouri hospital

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Shooting rampage suspect Jared Loughner, who was found mentally incompetent to stand trial on charges he killed six people and wounded Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was returned to a hospital in Missouri on Friday, authorities said.

The U.S. Marshals Service said Loughner was flown from Tucson, Ariz., to Springfield, where he will be treated at a hospital for federal prisoners.

Earlier this week, Loughner, 22, was removed from a hearing at U.S. District Court in Tucson held to determine if he was mentally fit to stand trial, after he shouted at the judge.

Judge Larry Burns ruled that Loughner, deemed by experts to be suffering from schizophrenia, was incapable of understanding the proceedings against him and assisting in his own defense.

He ordered Loughner sent back to the federal prison hospital in Springfield, where the college dropout previously spent five weeks undergoing psychiatric evaluations.

Tom Henman, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service in Phoenix, said the flight went off "without incident" on Friday.

Burns ruled that Loughner should remain in custody and undergo treatment there for the next four months, and he set a hearing for September 21 to determine whether Loughner's condition had improved sufficiently for legal proceedings against him to resume.

In court, Loughner blurted out, "Thanks for the freak show," or "Thanks for the free jail," although his exact words were unclear. He added, "She died in front of me," before being hustled out of the court by marshals.

He pleaded not guilty in March to 49 charges tied to the shooting rampage at the "Congress on Your Corner" event in Tucson on January 8, including multiple counts of first-degree murder.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor. Editing by Peter Bohan)