PHOENIX – A federal judge has ruled that the suspect in the Arizona shooting rampage that wounded U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is mentally incompetent to stand trial, putting the criminal case on hold indefinitely.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns means 21-year-old Jared Lee Loughner will be sent to a federal facility for up to four months in a bid to restore his competency.
Wednesday’s ruling comes after Loughner spent five weeks in March and April at a federal facility in Missouri, where he was examined by two court-appointed mental health professionals.
Loughner has pleaded not guilty to federal charges stemming from the Jan. 8 shooting at a Tucson meet-and-greet event that injured Giffords and 12 others and killed six people.
Jacques Billeaud/The Associated Press