Key Hearing Set In Giffords Shooting Case

By Al Macias
September 27, 2011

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A mugshot of Jared Lee Loughner after his arrest for a deadly shooting spree in Tucson in January 2011. He was 22 at the time.

PHOENIX -- The man accused of killing six people and wounding 13 others in a shooting rampage in Tucson faces a competency hearing in federal court Wednesday. A judge is trying to determine if Jared Lee Loughner can be made mentally fit to stand trial.

Loughner has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges stemming from the shootings. Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot and wounded, along with 12 other people in the January 8 attack. Six others died. Giffords is slowly recovering from a gunshot wound to the head and the Democrat still represents the Tucson area in Congress.

In an earlier hearing, mental health experts concluded Loughner suffers from schizophrenia and a federal judge found him unfit to stand trial.

Since then, Loughner has been held in a federal prison in Missouri. Prison officials have forcibly medicated him because they say he posed a danger at the prison.

Prosecutors have asked the court to extend Loughner’s stay in the Missouri prison for another eight months.

His defense attorneys argue that prosecutors have not proven there’s a substantial probability Loughner’s mental condition can be improved so that he can go to trial.

Loughner has been indicted by a federal grand jury on 49 counts, including murder.