Update (3:07 p.m.): Loughner appeared in court and was removed after an outburst. See our story here.
The man accused of shooting U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head in a January rampage that left six dead and a total of 14 injured will likely be found unfit to stand trial at a hearing scheduled in Arizona today. That's what CBS News reports, citing unnamed sources in the U.S. Department of Justice. Jared Lee Loughner faces 49 criminal charges, and could receive the death penalty if found guilty of the shooting spree at a Giffords event in a Safeway parking lot in Tuscon.
The sources told reporter Karen Brown that Loughner would "almost certainly" be found mentally unfit for trial. If he is found incompetent, he will be remanded to federal custody, and will return to the Bureau of Prisons' Medical Center for federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo., for further examination and to see if he gains competency.
Federal mental health experts will not be gauging whether Loughner is sane, or what his mental state was at the time of the shooting; but as to whether he understands the charges against him and if he can help his attorney's in his defense.
Loughner spent five weeks in March and April at a federal facility in Springfield, Mo., where two court-appointed mental health professionals examined him to determine whether he understands the consequences of the case against him. The competency reports by psychologist Christina Pietz and psychiatrist Matthew Carroll haven't been publicly released.
The Associated Press reported that prosecutors had cited a Youtube video showing a hooded Loughner wearing black plastic bags and burning an American flag as evidence he was mentally unfit to stand trial. Last week, e-mails between instructors and administrators at Loughner's alma mater, Pima Community College, painted a portrait of a disturbed young man just out of reach of help. Today, a judge will determine whether he is too disturbed to proceed with the trial.
Here's that video:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.