Lawyers for the suspect in the Tucson shooting rampage are arguing against his continued commitment at a Missouri prison facility, saying a judge failed to fully consider possible negative side effects from his forced medication or put a limit on his future dosage.
In a court filing late Monday, Jared Lee Loughner's attorneys said his forced medication to treat bipolar disorder has violated his rights and that there's no evidence he can be made mentally fit for trial in the next four months.
Loughner, 23, has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges stemming from the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson that killed six, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Loughner was found mentally unfit for trial and first ordered to the Springfield, Mo., facility in June. He was there four months before U.S. District Judge Larry Burns held another competency hearing Sept. 28 in Tucson and ordered that Loughner to be returned to the facility for four more months and continue being medicated.
In his ruling, Burns said there is a substantial probability that Loughner's mental health can be restored.
Loughner was returned to the facility Oct. 12
In their Monday filing, Loughner's attorneys disagreed with Burns' ruling. They said even if Loughner can be made fit, his right to a fair trial could be violated because of the possible sedative effect of the drugs he's being forced to take.
The lawyers cited Loughner's behavior at the Sept. 28 hearing, his most recent. Loughner appeared to be paying attention but sat still and expressionless even as witnesses testified about emotional topics, including the shooting and Loughner's mental health problems.
That was in stark contrast to Loughner's behavior at a May 25 hearing before he was medicated in which Loughner interrupted the proceedings by blurting out: "Thank you for the free kill. She died in front of me. Your cheesiness."
The angry outburst got him kicked out of court.
In Monday's filing, Loughner's attorneys said his expressionless and sedated appearance at the more recent hearing "presented serious concerns about whether he was likely to receive a fair trial in a case such as this," in which witnesses and victims will recount the events of Jan. 8.
Prison officials have forcibly medicated Loughner with psychotropic drugs after concluding at an administrative hearing that he posed a danger at the prison.
Loughner's medications include the sedative Lorazepam, the antidepressant Wellbutrin, and Risperidone, a drug used for people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe behavior problems.
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