Mental health experts have concluded that Jared Loughner - the man accused of fatally shooting six people in January and gravely wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords - is not competent to stand trial, CBS News reported Wednesday.As the report notes, the competence to stand trial is separate from any defense team arguments that he was insane at the time of the January 8 shooting. It has to do with whether Loughner is capable of understanding the charges against him and assisting in his defense.
Loughner, 22, faces a competency hearing Wednesday before U.S. District Court Judge Larry Burns in Tucson. Burns must rule on whether Loughner is capable of understanding the charges against him and assisting in his defense.
CBS said it spoke with Justice Department sources who said Loughner "will almost certainly be declared mentally unfit for trial." The issue of Loughner's competence to stand trial is separate, as a legal matter, from any effort he and his defense attorneys may make to argue that he was insane at the time of the Jan. 8 shooting in a Safeway supermarket parking lot.
In court filings last week, prosecutors and defense attorneys said they did not plan to dispute the findings of a Bureau of Prisons psychologist and an independent psychiatrist who examined Loughner, who has been in custody since the shooting. The court papers suggested that the mental health experts agreed with each other about Loughner's mental state, but the documents did not specify their conclusion.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined Thursday to comment on Loughner's competence.
Loughner faces 49 felony counts in connection with the January shooting spree, which wounded Giffords (D-AZ), and killed U.S. District Court Judge John Roll, Giffords aide Gabriel Zimmerman and four others.