9:20 PM EDT, June 29, 2011
SAN DIEGO -- A federal judge in San Diego Wednesday denied a defense motion that would have stopped prison officials in Missouri from involuntarily medicating Jared Loughner, who is accused of killing six people in Tucson, Ariz, and wounding 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Loughner, 22, faces a 49-count federal indictment stemming from the shooting spree last Jan. 8 outside a market in Tucson.
Attorneys for Loughner told U.S. District Judge Larry Burns that officials at a Springfield, Mo. prison should have considered less intrusive remedies than to forcibly administer anti-psychotic drugs to their client. But prosecutors argued the decision to involuntarily medicate Loughner was reached because he posed a danger to others.
Burns -- who was assigned to the case when all judges in Arizona recused themselves -- ruled the decision to medicate was properly reached by medical professionals.
"I have no reason to disagree with the doctors here,'' Burns said, adding that he didn't find anything arbitrary or unreasonable about the decision by prison officials.
Reuben Cahn, one of Loughner's attorneys, maintained that prison officials should have considered less intrusive measures to subdue the defendant such as restraints, spit guards and taking away the chairs in his cell, which he allegedly threw.
But the lead prosecutor on the case, Wallace Kleindienst, said the court was not in a position to question the decision by the Bureau of Prisons.
"They (medical professionals) know what they're doing,'' Kleindienst said.
The prosecutor said Loughner had a passive-aggressive personality.
"This is a person who murdered six people,'' Kleindienst said, telling the judge that Loughner would have killed many more had he not been tackled to the ground.
"He defies authority. He is defiant. This is a person who is a ticking time-bomb.''
Cahn, in his remarks to the judge, said the prison medical staff tried to do an "end run'' by failing to get court authorization to involuntarily medicate Loughner.
Burns said there was no evidence that prison officials were trying to unduly influence the outcome of the criminal case against Loughner by trying to medicate the defendant and get him to regain his mental competency.
In May, Burns declared Loughner mentally incompetent to stand trial and the defendant was sent to the Missouri prison.
If the defendant regains his mental competency, the criminal case against him can be reinstated.
Another hearing in the case is set for Sept. 21 in Tucson.
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