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Loughner to face further evaluation at federal hospital in Missouri

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The mass shooting suspect will be evaluated again at a federal hospital
  • Loughner cannot assist in his defense due to mental illness, a judge rules
  • He agrees with two experts who came to that conclusion after evaluating the defendant
  • Loughner is accused of killing six people and wounding 13

(CNN) -- Arizona mass shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner will spend four months at a federal hospital in Missouri, where he will undergo further evaluation to determine whether he can be deemed competent to stand trial, officials said Thursday.

A federal judge in Tucson ruled Wednesday that the suspect in the killing of six and the wounding of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is not competent to stand trial.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ordered that Loughner be sent to the prison hospital in Springfield, Missouri, said Robbie Sherwood, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Arizona. The U.S. Marshals Service said Loughner will be moved within two weeks.

Burns said he based his decision on court-ordered mental evaluations of Loughner at that facility.

"The defendant was not able to comprehend the charges," Burns said.

Loughner was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia by the two experts who examined him, he said.

California psychiatrist Matthew Carroll. Both concluded that Loughner isn't fit for trial because he cannot assist in his defense due to mental illness.

One of those experts was psychologist Christina Pietz, who works for the Bureau of Prisons at Springfield, and the other was

Burns said he agreed with Carroll's evaluation that Loughner is "clearly illogical and confused." The judge said Loughner wasn't masquerading a mental illness and noted that he had been acting bizarrely for the past two years.

The judge also said that Loughner doesn't like being labeled mentally ill. "He scoffs at the idea," Burns said.

Loughner, 22, of Tucson, Arizona, has no rational understanding, an "irrational distrust of his lawyers" and "has delusions that prohibit him from considering legal defenses," the judge said.

The U.S. attorney general will take custody of Loughner for a period not to exceed four months, during which he will be taken to the federal hospital for further evaluation. Prosecutors said Loughner could be readied for competency through proper medication, and this practice has proved successful in other cases.

If Loughner doesn't improve during the four months, he could stay at the Springfield prison or be sent to another prison hospital facility.

The next court date for Loughner is scheduled for September 21. He has pleaded not guilty to the 49 charges he faces, including murder and attempted murder, related to the January 8 mass shooting in a grocery store parking lot in Tucson.

He is accused of killing six people and wounding 13, including Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, who was holding a meet-and-greet with constituents at the time. Authorities say Giffords was the target of the attack.

During his hearing, two marshals forcibly removed Loughner from the courtroom after an outburst in which one reporter heard him say, "Thank you for the freak show. She died right in front of me."

CNN's Ted Rowlands, Michael Martinez, Carol Cratty, Melanie Whitley and Michael Cary contributed to this report.