Loughner Mental Hearing May 25; Judge Releases Records

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A judge scheduled a May 25 hearing to determine if Jared Loughner, charged in the Tucson shooting rampage that critically injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), is competent to stand trial, the Associated Press reports. Loughner, who smiled as he was led into the San Diego courtroom, appeared before U.S. District Judge Larry Burns in khaki prison clothes, his once-shaved head now featuring short, dark hair and side burns.

He pleaded not guilty to a slew of federal charges, including trying to assassinate Giffords, attempting to kill two of her aides, and murdering federal judge John Roll and Giffords staffer Gabe Zimmerman. Prosecutors had asked Burns to commit Loughner to a federal facility where he could be evaluated by psychologists to determine whether he suffers from a mental defect that makes him incompetent to stand trial. Burns said he has concerns about whether Loughner understands the proceedings. Burns also approved the release of some records sought by news organizations related to a police search of Loughner’s home. The Arizona Republic and KPNX-TV argued there was no basis for search warrant records to remain sealed and that the public had a right to the records.

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