PHOENIX – A federal judge on Tuesday scheduled an emergency hearing about whether prison authorities should stop forcing the Tucson shooting rampage suspect to take anti-psychotic medication, as a new filing provided more details about his bizarre behavior behind bars.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ordered the hearing in Jared Lee Loughner's case to be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday in San Diego, where a decision could be made on whether to halt the forced medication or allow it to continue.
Loughner's attorneys are arguing that Loughner should not be involuntarily medicated without approval from a judge.
In a filing Tuesday, prosecutors argued that Loughner should be given anti-psychotic medication because he's been diagnosed as schizophrenic and poses a danger to others.
On April 4, Loughner spit at his own attorney, lunged at her and had to be restrained by prison staff, prosecutors said.
Their filing also says that during a taped interview with a psychiatrist March 28, Loughner suddenly became enraged, cursed at him, threw a plastic chair at him twice, and then wet a roll of toilet paper and tried to throw it at the camera before hurling the chair twice more.
The filing also said Loughner was repeatedly encouraged to attend a June 14 prison administrative hearing about his medication, but he refused to participate, "and instead barricaded himself, lying down by his bed."
The hearing found that Loughner was a danger to himself, according to court records.
Loughner has been at a federal prison facility in Springfield, Mo., where mental health experts will try to make him psychologically fit to stand trial. He arrived May 28 and will spend up to four months there. A judge has twice denied requests by Loughner's attorneys to be given notice before their client is drugged.
In one filing regarding the medication, Loughner's attorneys said that they didn't know whether prison officials had started giving him drugs, but prosecutors' Tuesday filing said Loughner "is properly receiving medication."
Loughner has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges stemming from the Jan. 8 shooting that killed six and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
If Loughner is later determined to be competent enough to understand the case against him and assist his lawyers, the court proceedings will resume. If he isn't deemed competent at the end of his treatment, Loughner's stay at the facility can be extended.
Loughner's lawyers haven't said whether they intend to present an insanity defense, but they noted in court filings that his mental condition will likely be a central issue at trial.
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