Arizona shooting suspect moved for mental tests
PHOENIX, Arizona — The suspect in a January shooting spree that severely wounded a congresswoman has been moved to a federal medical facility for a mental evaluation, court records said on Thursday.
Jared Lee Loughner, 22, the prime suspect in the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was transferred to the prison facility in the US state of Missouri from Arizona, where the shooting took place.
“We won’t confirm exactly when the transfer was made, but he is there now,” said Thomas Henman, a spokesman for the US Marshals Service.
Six people were killed — including US federal Judge John Roll and nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green — and several others were wounded in the shooting at a political event outside a Tucson supermarket in January.
Loughner’s lead defense lawyer, Judy Clarke, had requested the evaluation be conducted at the federal prison in Tucson, where he has been held since being arraigned on a new 49-count indictment on March 9.
Loughner’s lawyers also requested an evaluation by independent psychiatric staff not affiliated with the government.
According to court records, Clarke described Loughner as “seriously ill” and said that transferring him would worsen his condition.
But on Monday, Judge Larry Burns ordered Loughner be transferred to the Missouri facility after Clarke and attorneys for the government could not reach an agreement on where the evaluation should be carried out.
Loughner, who has been described as a disturbed loner, will be tested to determine if he fully understands the nature of the charges against him.
Giffords is recovering from a bullet wound to the brain at a Houston rehabilitation center, where she has recently begun speaking in full sentences and walking with assistance.
The shooting of the Democratic lawmaker in a conservative US state shocked the country and led to widespread calls for a more civil political discourse.