Judge orders Tucson shooting suspect to get mental evaluation at Missouri facility
10:06 PM, Mar 21, 2011
3:49 PM, Mar 22, 2011
By AMANDA LEE MYERS
PHOENIX (AP) --A federal judge on Monday ordered the suspect in
the January shooting rampage in Tucson to undergo a mental
evaluation at a specialized facility in Missouri as soon as
The evaluation will be videotaped and provided to prosecutors
and defense attorneys, U.S. District Judge Larry Burns said in his
late Monday ruling. The judge also ordered that the exam be
conducted no later than April 29, and that findings be reported to
the court and attorneys on both sides by May 11.
Prosecutors had argued that Jared Lee Loughner's exam should be
conducted at a so-called medical referral center that provides
forensic services and has increased resources, and recommended the
federal Bureau of Prisons facility in Springfield, Mo.
Medical referral centers use psychiatrists employed by the
Loughner's lawyers have said the exam should be done by an
outside expert, not by a Bureau of Prisons employee, at a Tucson
prison. They also wanted assurances that the evaluation doesn't
expand into a review of their client's sanity.
Lead defense attorney Judy Clarke wrote in a court filing last
week that moving Loughner would harm the defense team's efforts to
develop an attorney-client relationship. The defense also was
concerned that Loughner is "seriously ill," and that moving him to
Missouri could worsen his state.
Loughner, 22, has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from
the Jan. 8 attack that killed six and wounded 13, including Rep.
Gabrielle Giffords. She remains at a rehabilitation center in
Houston as she recovers from a bullet wound to the brain.
Burns agreed that the Springfield facility is the best place for
the exam, and ordered that the scope of the exam should be limited
to whether Loughner is competent to stand trial, not whether he was
sane at the time of the shooting.
"The question at issue is whether the defendant is presently
suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally
incompetent to the extent that he is unable to understand the
nature and consequences of the proceedings against him, or to
assist properly in his defense," Burns wrote.
Burns cited a memo written by Dr. Donald Lewis, chief of
psychiatry for the Bureau of Prisons. He wrote that the Springfield
facility is best for Loughner's exam because it "has medical staff
available for neurology and other organic testing, and has far more
forensic staff and full-time psychiatrists available to provide
Lewis also argued that the Tucson prison was inappropriate
because as a high-security facility, precautions taken there would
be disruptive and likely prevent an examiner from doing a thorough
He acknowledged that transferring Loughner would be inconvenient
for defense attorneys but ruled that it is "unavoidable in light of
the need to reliably and definitively resolve the question of the
defendant's present competency." The judge also said the defense
can visit Loughner while he is in Missouri.
Burns also wrote that the defense can seek a separate competency
exam by an independent psychiatrist. "This should help assuage any
concern the defense team has about the impartiality of the
Springfield medical staff," Burns wrote.
Loughner's exam could take as little as a few days, and he
cannot legally be held at the Springfield facility for more than a
Prosecutors have brought 49 counts against Loughner, including
trying to assassinate Giffords, attempting to kill two of her
aides, and killing U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords
staffer Gabe Zimmerman. Loughner also is charged with causing the
deaths of four others who weren't federal employees, causing injury
and death to participants at a "federally provided activity" and
using a gun in a crime of violence.
Many of the counts could bring a death sentence, but prosecutors
have not announced if they will pursue that penalty. State charges
are on hold until the federal case is complete but also carry the
potential for the death penalty if Loughner is convicted.
Defense lawyers have not said if they intend to present an