Psychiatrist to testify Loughner is competent to enter plea: AP
In this artist rendering, Jared Lee Loughner makes a court appearance at the Sandra Day O'Connor United States Courthouse in Phoenix, Ariz., Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. (AP / Bill Robles)
Published Saturday, August 4, 2012 10:33PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, August 4, 2012 10:57PM EDT
A court-appointed psychiatrist will testify Tuesday that Jared Lee Loughner is competent to enter a plea in the shooting rampage that killed six people and injured 13 others, including then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a person familiar with the case said Saturday.
The person, speaking on condition of anonymity about upcoming events in the criminal case, says the plan is for Loughner to enter a guilty plea in the murders and attempted murders that would result in a sentence of life imprisonment. The person was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.
A status conference in the case had already been scheduled for Tuesday in Tucson, Arizona.
The plan is contingent on the judge in the case allowing Loughner to enter the plea.
Loughner pleaded not guilty to 49 charges stemming from the Jan. 8, 2011, outside a Tucson supermarket where Giffords was holding a meet-and-greet with constituents.
Authorities said he shot Giffords, opened fire on the crowd and was subdued by bystanders. Giffords was shot in the head and subsequently left Congress to devote her time to rehabilitation.
An Arizona college that Loughner attended released numerous emails about him that painted a picture of a struggling student with emotional problems who disturbed others with his strange behaviour.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns had ruled that Loughner isn't psychologically fit to stand trial, but that he could eventually be made ready for trial after treatment. Experts had concluded that Loughner suffers from schizophrenia.
Prison officials in Missouri, where Loughner has been held, have forcibly medicated him with psychotropic drugs to make him fit to stand trial. Even though psychologists have said Loughner's condition is improving, his lawyers have vigorously fought the government's efforts to medicate him.
At one point, a federal appeals court halted the forced medication, but resumed it once mental health experts at the prison concluded that Loughner's condition was deteriorating further.
Loughner has demonstrated bizarre behaviour since his arrest. He was removed from a May 25, 2011, court hearing when he lowered his head to within inches of the courtroom table, then lifted his head and began a loud and angry rant.
His psychologist has said that since Loughner has been forcibly medicated, his condition has improved. He sat still and expressionless for seven hours at a hearing in September 2011.