TUCSON, Ariz. — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Jared Lee Loughner was incompetent to stand trial, all but ending, for now, legal proceedings in the January shooting that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
After studying reports from two mental health experts who examined the 22-year-old defendant, Judge Larry A. Burns ordered that Loughner be kept in custody and stopped any federal trial unless Loughner were to be rehabilitated later, would be able to understand the charges against him and assist in his own defense. The charges carry the potential of the death penalty.
The ruling also appears to put on hold any state trial against Loughner.
He was ordered removed from the courtroom after an outburst. Reporters heard him shout: "She died in front of me," "Thank you for the freak show" and, "You're treasonous."
A staff psychologist at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo., and a forensic psychiatrist in San Diego both agreed that Loughner at this time is unfit mentally to stand trial.
Calling the shuttle: For students at Mesa Verde Elementary School in Tucson, it was an unusual time to come to school: Sunday night. But it was an even more unusual school activity: making a long distance call 216 miles straight up to the space shuttle Endeavour. The educational event was set up by Endeavour commander Mark Kelly, husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was wounded in the Jan. 8 shootings that killed six people, including 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green. Christina-Taylor went to Mesa Verde.