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Judge orders updated Loughner report
Report could lead to new competency hearing
Web Producer: Chuck Meyer
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV/AP) - The judge in the Tucson shootings case has ordered a psychologist to submit an updated report on defendant Jared Lee Loughner. It could lead to another competency hearing next month, a step toward declaring Loughner mentally competent to face 49 charges stemming from the January 8th shootings that killed 6 and wounded 13, including Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
The court action comes just one day after the Tucson community marked the one-year anniversary of the shooting tragedy.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ordered psychologist Christina Pietz, who has been examining Loughner since his arrival at a federal prison/hospital complex in Missouri, to submit an updated report on Loughner to the court by January 25th. Based on the findings of that report, which will be shared in advance with prosecutors and defense attorneys, Burns says he could order another competency hearing by February 9th, the date that Loughner's latest four-month stay expires.
At an earlier competency hearing in Tucson in late 2011, Burns ruled Loughner is not competent for trial, but noted that Dr. Pietz had reported Loughner made significant progress toward restoring competency, especially since he had been forcibly medicated by orders of the judge earlier in the year. The doctor reported, however, that Loughner still entertained suicidal thoughts and a suicide note was found in his Missouri cell. If and when Loughner is deemed competent he can be brought to trial, although Arizona legal observers not connected to the case have recently speculated that any trial is unlikely to take place during the year 2012.