Loughner loses bid to stay out of Missouri prison hospital
Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner lost his bid to remain in Arizona when a federal appeals court ruled Friday that the government can return him to a Missouri prison hospital and continue to force him to take anti-psychotic drugs.
Loughner, 23, had been fighting a court-ordered second term of commitment at the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo., claiming that as a pretrial detainee he has the right to refuse unwanted medication.
In an unexpectedly swift decision following arguments Thursday before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the three-judge panel denied Loughner's motion to block his further commitment.
The panel said in a terse ruling that Loughner would be forced to take the powerful drugs even if he remained at the federal lockup in Tucson and therefore hadn't demonstrated that confinement in Missouri would cause him irreparable harm.
Loughner faces 49 felony charges in the Jan. 8 shooting rampage outside a Tucson supermarket that killed six and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
A federal judge in May ruled Loughner was incompetent to stand trial following a diagnosis of schizophrenia by doctors at the Missouri hospital. The judge ordered a four-month commitment and treatment aimed at restoring his mental capacity to assist in his own defense.
After that term expired last month, the U.S. attorney's office in Arizona sought and won a second commitment order from U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns at a Sept. 28 hearing in Tucson. Loughner had been returned to Arizona for the hearing and held at U.S. Prison-Tucson for the last two weeks.
A spokesman for the U.S. Marshalls Service in Tucson did not immediately return a phone call asking when Loughner would be transported.
--Carol J. Williams
Photo: Jared Lee Loughner faces 49 felony charges in the Jan. 8 Tucson shooting rampage. Credit: Pima County Sheriff's Department