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Tucson shooting suspect in court for hearing on mental health

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 28, 2011 3:19 PM
Tucson shooting suspect in court for hearing on mental health

TUCSON, Ariz (Reuters) - Tucson shooting suspect Jared Loughner appeared in court on Wednesday for a hearing to determine if he should undergo further psychiatric care that prosecutors say could make him mentally fit to stand trial.

Loughner was found mentally incompetent in May by a federal judge, who ordered the 23-year-old college dropout to undergo four months of treatment at a federal prison facility in Springfield, Missouri.

With those four months now expired, prosecutors have asked for an eight-month extension, saying there is a substantial possibility that Loughner would be restored to mental competency by the end of that time.

Defense lawyers have opposed the time extension and object to the forcible medication of Loughner with anti-psychotic drugs.

Loughner is charged with 49 charges, including multiple counts of first-degree murder, in a January 8 shooting spree at an event hosted by U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

Six people were killed in the shooting and 13 others were wounded, including Giffords.

Loughner pleaded not guilty in March and was last in court on May 25, when he was removed by U.S. Marshals after an outburst.

(Reporting by Brad Poole; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)