Loughner ordered to appear in Ariz. court next week
Alleged Tucson gunman Jared Lee Loughner will appear at an Arizona court hearing next week despite objections from his lawyers that his presence would be disruptive, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
Against his attorneys' wishes, Loughner wants to travel to his hometown of Tucson for the hearing. There, U.S. District Judge Larry Burns will consider whether it's possible he can be made mentally competent for trial and whether his stay at a prison facility in Springfield, Mo., will be extended, the Associated Press reported.
Loughner has been at the facility since May 27, after experts found him mentally unfit for trial. Experts have said that he suffers from schizophrenia.
Loughner has pleaded not guilty to 49 felony charges stemming from the January shooting in Tucson that killed six people and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
In a conference call between lawyers and the judge on Monday, Loughner's defense attorneys opposed a request by prosecutors that Loughner travel to next week’s hearing. Defense attorney Judy Clarke argued that he would not be able to help them make a case against extending his prison stay and said she saw nothing in the law that required his presence, the Associated Press reported.
“He is on suicide watch. He has been described as gravely disabled. We think it's an unnecessary risk to bring him to a hearing,” Clarke said.
Prosecutors argued that the hearing could not take place without Loughner and cited a federal law that implies his right to attend.
Burns agreed with the prosecutors and ruled that he must attend the hearing on Sept. 28.
-- Stephen Ceasar
Photo: This Jan. 8, 2011, file photo provided by the Pima County Sheriff's Department shows Jared Lee Loughner. Credit: AP Photo/Pima County Sheriff's Department via The Arizona Republic