Accused Tucson gunman Jared Loughner can be forced to take antipsychotic drugs while doctors attempt to make him fit to stand trial in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and 18 others, a federal judge ruled yesterday, reports the Los Angeles Times. “I defer to medical doctors,” said U.S. District Judge Larry Burns at an emergency hearing requested by the defense. “I have no reason to disagree with doctors. I didn’t go to medical school.”
Loughner faces 49 felony charges, including murder and attempted murder, and could face the death penalty. He has pleaded not guilty. He has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and declared mentally incompetent to stand trial, at least for now. Loughner, 22, has been at a federal prison facility in Springfield, Mo., since May, Prosecutors detailed Loughner’s outbursts while incarcerated: spitting at his lead attorney, Judy Clarke; cursing and throwing a chair at a psychiatrist; and throwing a wet roll of toilet paper at a camera. Assistant U.S. Atty. Wallace Kleindienst told Burns that Loughner was dangerous to other inmates and staff. “This is a person who is a ticking time bomb,” he said.