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Judge: Giffords shooting suspect is mentally unfit for trial

Thursday, May 26, 2011

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The man accused of wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killing six in a shooting rampage in Arizona is mentally incompetent to stand trial, a judge ruled Wednesday after two deputy U.S. marshals dragged the man out of the courtroom because of an angry outburst.

As survivors of the deadly January attack looked on, Jared Lee Loughner lowered his head, raised it and said what sounded like "Thank you for the freak show. She died in front of me." His words were loud but indistinct, and it wasn't clear who he was talking about. He wore a khaki prison suit and sported bushy, reddish sideburns.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns' decision means the 22-year-old will be sent to back to a federal facility in Missouri for up to four months, where doctors will try to medicate him to see if they can restore his competency to a point where he understands the case against him.

The ruling came after Burns said two mental health professionals had concluded Loughner suffers from schizophrenia and is mentally unfit for trial.

Loughner has pleaded not guilty to 49 federal charges stemming from the Jan. 8 shooting at a meet-and-greet event that wounded Giffords and 12 others and killed six people, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge.


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