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Jared Loughner Trial & Competence Relies on Psychiatric Tests
David Hope
Mar 9, 2011, 13:10

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Jared Loughner, should he stand trial, will be the focal point in one of the most anticipated legal cases in modern American history.

Today, a judge said that he will consider psychiatric tests for Loughner to see if he's competent to stand trial in the January shooting spree in Tucson.

U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns said he would discuss moving the trial's start from September, after Loughner's lawyers said they needed until January 2013 to prepare because of the case's complexity.

Loughner, 22, is to be arraigned in Burns's Tucson court Wednesday on 49 federal charges, including murder and attempted murder, in the Jan. 8 shooting that killed six and injured 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.

Loughner was indicted by a grand jury Friday for the slaying of U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords aide Gabriel Zimmerman, as well as the killings of four other people who were at Giffords' community meeting outside a Tucson supermarket.

He pleaded not guilty to earlier charges he tried to assassinate Giffords and kill two of her other aides.

Prosecutors asked Burns Monday night to order Loughner to be moved to a medical prison from Phoenix's medium-security Federal Correctional Institution to undergo extensive examination before standing trial.

"The defendant's online postings are indicative of an individual who may have mental issues," prosecutors said.

They described in court papers a photograph posted on his former Myspace account featuring what appeared to be a 9mm Glock semi-automatic handgun, the same kind used in the Tucson shooting, on top of a U.S. history book, which was next to an image of the White House and faces of U.S. presidents.

They described a video Loughner allegedly posted on YouTube in which he burns an American flag in an outdoor, parklike area while masked and hooded and wearing garbage bags on his lower body. The video -- titled "America: Your Last Memory in a Terrorist Country!" -- features the song "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor!" by the alternative metal band Drowning Pool, a United Press International review of the video indicated.

Loughner's lawyers acknowledged Loughner may have "mental impairments," but said they were "in the very preliminary stages of their investigation to determine the nature, severity and consequences" of those impairments "and their relevance to legal claims," a court paper stated.

Lead defense attorney Judy Clarke asked Burns for a 16-month delay because "no lawyer or team of lawyers could be ready to defend Mr. Loughner by September 2011 -- no matter how hard they work between now and then."

Source: UPI

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