Jared Loughner's Forced Medication to Continue; Dissenting Judge Says "How His Mind Works" Could Be His Best Defense
Forcibly medicating Tucson mass-shooting suspect Jared Loughner got the approval from an appeals court yesterday, as two of the three judges on the panel approved of continuing Loughner's drug regimen.
This issue has been in the courts for a while, as doctors are trying to "restore his competency" to stand trial by forcing him to take a few medications.
Loughner -- the lone suspect in last year's shooting that killed six people and injured 14, including then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords -- is slated to be treated in a Missouri prison facility until June.
In the lengthy opinion from the court yesterday, the dissenting judge said the forced medication may infringe on Loughner's fair trial rights.
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"Assuming Loughner will put on an insanity defense, manifestations in court of how his mind works may well be his own best evidence," Judge Marsha Berzon writes. "Because psychotropic medication chemically alters the brain, it 'deprives the jury of the opportunity to observe the defendant in the delusional state he was in at the time of the crime.'"
Therefore, there may be "no point" to restoring his competency if the medicating is unconstitutional, she says.
Still, the two other judges ruled to let the forced medicating continue.
According to the opinion, Loughner's drug diet as of August included two daily doses of risperidone, one buproprion a day, two daily doses of benztropine, and three daily doses of lorazepam.
Those meds are considered "a standard approach to his schizophrenia and other medical conditions," according to his doctors' opinions.
According to previous reports from his doctors, Loughner "expressed feelings of depression and hopelessness, complained of a radio talking to him inserting thoughts into his mind, . . . engaged in yelling, crying, [and] rocking back and forth for prolonged periods of time, made statements such as that he wanted to die, [and] requested to be given an injection to be killed."