Judge orders Loughner to undergo psych exam

He also directs release of documents related to search warrants
2011-03-10T00:00:00Z 2014-09-05T15:22:31Z Judge orders Loughner to undergo psych examKim Smith Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 10, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Jared Lee Loughner, 22, was ordered to undergo a psychological examination to see if he is mentally competent to stand trial for the Jan. 8 shooting that left six dead and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others wounded.

U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns granted the motion over the objections of defense attorney Judy Clarke, who complained the examination will interfere with her ability to develop a trusting relationship with Loughner.

Sixty days into a case is too soon for anyone to be able to determine if their client will be able to assist in their defense, Clarke said. She asked for an additional 60 days.

However, Burns agreed with Assistant U.S. Attorney Wallace Kleindienst that another component of competency is the ability to understand the nature of the proceedings. Burns said he didn't want to issue several rulings only to find out at some later point Loughner didn't understand what was going on around him.

Burns also agreed Wednesday to release redacted copies of search-warrant-related documents.

In arguing for the competency evaluation, Kleindienst said Loughner apparently had an "irrational obsession" with Giffords that led to the shootings. There's evidence Loughner distrusts the government and judges, believes the CIA and the FBI were "bugging" him, and he hears voices, Kleindienst said.

The prosecutor also noted there are YouTube videos showing Loughner has "severe mental issues."

Even if he didn't know anything about the events of Jan. 8 or Loughner's past behavior, the judge said, he would've been concerned because of Loughner's "affect."

As he has in the past, Loughner grinned as he was brought into the courtroom Wednesday. His once-shorn hair has grown back, and he was sporting long sideburns and fuzz on his chin.

Burns scheduled the competency hearing for May 25 but left it up to the attorneys to determine where the examination will take place and who will conduct it.

Loughner is being held in the maximum-security federal prison southeast of Tucson, which may create access problems, Kleindienst said.

Clarke entered "not guilty" pleas on Loughner's behalf to each of the 49-counts on which he was indicted last week. Loughner is charged with trying to assassinate Giffords, attempting to kill two of her aides and killing federal Judge John Roll and Gabe Zimmerman, one of her staffers.

Loughner also is charged in the deaths of four others, causing injury and death at a federally provided activity and using a gun in a crime of violence.

When asked if his true name was Jared Lee Loughner, Loughner replied "Yes it is" in a cheerful tone.

The judge agreed to postpone arguments on other pending motions until the competency issue is resolved.

Writing samples sought

Prosecutors want Loughner to provide handwriting samples to compare with documents seized from his home, and defense attorneys don't want them to have access to his medical or psychological records during his incarceration.

When FBI special agents searched Loughner's Tucson home near North Thornydale and West Magee roads, they found a manila envelope with writing on the outside.

"I planned ahead," "My assassination" and the name "Giffords" appear on the envelope, along with what appears to be Loughner's signature, FBI Special Agent Tony M. Taylor said in court documents.

Loughner's father attended the hearing, listening to the proceedings with his arms crossed, head down and eyes closed.

Also in the crowded courtroom were more than 20 U.S. marshals and security personnel, numerous reporters, about a dozen family members of victims, and attorney Michael Piccarreta, who represents Roll's family.

In addition, at least two survivors of the shooting spree were in attendance, Susan Hileman and U.S. Army Col. (Ret.) Bill Badger.

Hileman, 58, was shot three times in the attack. She was holding 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green's hand when the shooting erupted, and Christina-Taylor was killed.

Badger, 74, was grazed by a bullet in the back of the head. He is credited with helping to subdue Loughner at the scene.

Items seized in search

According to search-warrant documents released Wednesday, authorities found a pair of 12-gauge shotguns, ammunition and drawings of weapons in a search of Loughner's home after the mass shooting.

Law-enforcement personnel also seized a printout of the U.S. Constitution, a journal, a notebook with poetry, song lyrics and a handwritten note that read: "What is government if words don't have a meaning?"

The items, along with computer equipment, cameras, electronic storage devices and photo CDs, were found in the home where Loughner lived with his parents on the northwest side. Also seized: a four-page document titled "False reality," five rolls of film, 10 music CDs and nine VHS tapes.

inside bedroom safe

The documents released Wednesday also provided more details about what was found in a safe in Loughner's bedroom, including the note on the manila envelope. The actual notes were not included in the search-warrant returns.

The documents also revealed that Loughner was wearing earplugs when he was detained outside the Safeway. Pima County sheriff's deputies also found two ammunition magazines with rounds in them in his left front pocket, the records show. He was carrying gift/debit cards and $93.01 in cash at the time of the shootings, the documents state.

At a Glance

• Not-guilty pleas were entered on Jared Lee Loughner's behalf to a 49-count indictment returned last week.

• Judge Larry A. Burns granted a prosecution request to have Loughner's mental competency evaluated.

• The judge ordered search warrant- related documents unsealed.

• The judge postponed motions pertaining to Loughner's handwriting samples and medical and psychological records kept by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Star reporter M. Scot Skinner and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or kimsmith@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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