Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Judge Orders Psychiatric Evaluation of Arizona Shooter Jared Lee Loughner

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- A judge has ordered Jared Lee Loughner to undergo a series of psychiatric evaluations at a dedicated facility in Springfield, Missouri, to determine if he is competent to stand trial. Loughner is accused of 49 criminal counts, including murder and attempted murder, for his alleged part in the January 2011 shooting that targeted Representative Gabrielle Giffords during a “Congress on Your Corner” rally she was hosting outside an area grocery store. Six people were killed and 13 others were injured. Loughner’s attorney argued against relocating his client to Springfield, describing Loughner as “seriously ill,” and Missouri as “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Loughner’s counsel protested that the physical transfer would disrupt his progress in mounting a defense, also citing the potential for the move to worsen his client’s already tenuous mental state.

But U.S. District Judge Larry Burns sided with prosecutors, approving both the transfer and the mental health evaluation for a date no later than April 29.

When questioned about the catalyst for the decision, a source close to the prosecution said, “We anticipated [Loughner] to enter a plea of not guilty, and we expected his attorneys to consider predicating their defense around the idea that Mr. Loughner was not sane, or acting in a sane manner, at the time of the shooting. Loughner, though, seemed perfectly composed in each of his appearances before the judge, until yesterday. That’s when things turned creepy.”

According to the source, Loughner offered to produce an alibi that would clear him of being in the area during the time of the shooting. Loughner, the source claimed, told Judge Burns that he was visiting his niece and her family, who live in a dilapidated Victorian mansion on the grounds of a sprawling cemetery. He described the family members as ghoulish, eccentric, and slightly deranged goths, obsessed with a sense of the macabre. Loughner also went into great detail about a sentient, disembodied hand that resides in a box and helps the seven-foot-tall butler with various chores. He produced photographic evidence of his niece’s children staging elaborate executions with their dolls. Afterward, Loughner stuck a light bulb in his mouth to convince the court that he could generate his own electrical current.