Loughner to get more treatment to prep for trial
Federal judge rules man charged with January 2011 mass shooting may become competent for trial with more treatmentPhoto: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The man charged with wounding former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and eleven others and killing six may be getting closer to competence for trial.
Monday, a Federal Court judge ruled Jared Lee Loughner should get another four months of mental health treatment.
To stand trial, Loughner must be judged competent enough to understand the case against him well enough to help his attorney's defend him.
Monday a judge ruled there's been progress enough to suggest more treatment will make Loughner ready for trial.
Loughner stayed in a Federal psychiatric hospital for this latest hearing.
In May an outburst from Loughner made U.S. Marshals pull him from court.
In a September hearing, after forced medication, Loughner barely moved.
Then, Federal Judge Larry Burns to ruled Loughner incompetent for trial. He sent Loughner back to a Federal Prison hospital for more treatment.
Now, the judge has ruled Loughner is making enough progress to continue treatment towards making him fit for trial.
Loughner's psychologist reports, he participates in group therapy now, speaks more logically, and maintains eye contact.
He's not pacing his cell as much as before. He's more cooperative, and seems to understand his case better but still lacks enough of a grip on his legal situation to be competent for trial.
Clarke Romans of the National Alliance on Mental Illness says functioning in group sessions could help prepare Loughner for a courtroom environment.
Romans says medication may help put a person on trial who's very different from the one who committed the crime.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Romans: "Are you questioning the fairness of trying somebody whose mental state may have been totally out of control at the time of the crime?"
Romans: "Yeah. I think they're trying two different people. They're trying somebody who's had their mental capacities restored to some extent so they can do what we consider normal activities: speaking, sitting still in a quiet courtroom, not having outbursts, not making funny faces or otherwise demonstrating that their mind is really not functioning normally."
The judge ordered a new hearing on competence in June with a psychologist report due two weeks before.
Loughner's attorneys have been fighting his forced medication but they did not dispute the idea of sending him back for more treatment.