Judge sets competency hearing in Loughner case - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Judge sets competency hearing in Loughner case

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Attorney Judy Clark and defendant Jared Loughner stand before the judge in federal court Wednesday, March 9, 2011 in Tucson, Ariz. as shown in this artists' rendering. Attorney Judy Clark and defendant Jared Loughner stand before the judge in federal court Wednesday, March 9, 2011 in Tucson, Ariz. as shown in this artists' rendering.
FILE - This combination of file photos released Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, by the U.S. Marshal's Service shows Jared Loughner. FILE - This combination of file photos released Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, by the U.S. Marshal's Service shows Jared Loughner.

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday scheduled a May 25 hearing to determine if the suspect in the Tucson shooting rampage that critically injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is competent to stand trial.

Jared Lee Loughner, who smiled as he was led into the 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.

Loughner also is charged with causing the deaths of four others who weren't federal employees, causing injury and death to participants at a "federally provided activity" and using a gun in a crime of violence.

Wednesday's hearing was attended by victims' family members, survivors, reporters and Loughner's own father. Loughner likely will also face state charges stemming from the Jan. 8 attack at a Giffords event outside a Tucson grocery store.

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.

Prosecutors said Loughner's menacing Internet postings suggest he may have mental issues.

The judge scheduled a competency hearing, saying 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. The documents have been sealed since Jan. 11.

Loughner's attorneys argued their client's right to a fair trial might be harmed by the release of the records. The said the documents contain potentially inflammatory statements by a law enforcement officer.

Burns said some of the records will remain sealed, such as information that is inflammatory or that will not be admissible at trial.

Loughner's father, Randy Loughner, listened to the proceedings with his arms crossed, head down and eyes closed.

Also in the crowded courtroom were more than 20 U.S. Marshals and security personnel, about a dozen family members of victims, and at least two survivors of the shooting spree, Susan Hileman and U.S. Army Col. (Ret.) Bill Badger.

Hileman, 58, was shot three times in the attack. She was holding 9-year-old Christina Taylor-Green's hand when the shooting erupted, and Christina was killed.

Badger, 74, was grazed by a bullet in the back of the head. He is credited with helping to subdue Loughner at the scene.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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