A Calm Loughner Ruled Mentally Fit for Trial

Accused Tucson killer was markedly more subdued in court Wednesday

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Jared Lee Loughner will eventually be mentally fit for trial, a federal judged ruled Wednesday. According to reports inside the courtroom, the man accused of killing six and wounding 13 in January appeared "quiet and emotionless" during the hearing on his mental health--a "stark contrast" from his last appearance in May which saw him yell "Thank you for the freak show" in a random outburst that resulted in him being ruled unfit to stand trial. "There's reason to be optimistic he will recover and be able to assist in his case," the judge said Wednesday. "The court finds that measurable progress has been made."

For a while Loughner was convinced that Representative Gabrielle Giffords, injured in the Tucson shooting spree, was dead. But he's since come around to the truth, reports The Associated Press.

Now that the 23-year-old is being forcibly medicated with psychotropic drugs, "he knows that she (Giffords) is alive."

"He is less obsessed with that," [Dr. Christina Pietz, a psychologist] testified. "He understands that he has murdered people. He talks about it. He talks about how remorseful he is."

According to the AP report, he's likely to stand trial but there is still some degree of uncertainty about that:

If Loughner is later determined to be competent enough to understand the case against him, the court proceedings will resume. If he isn't deemed mentally fit at the end of his treatment, Loughner's stay at the facility can be extended. There are no limits on the number of times such extensions can be granted.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.