Fox News reports the unsurprising news that “A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the suspect in the Tucson shooting rampage that wounded U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is mentally incompetent to stand trial, putting the criminal case against him on hold indefinitely.”
Jared Lee Loughner will be bundled back to the federal facility in Springfield, Missouri, where his mental competence was analyzed. After five weeks of study, his attendants declared him unfit to stand trial for the 49 federal charges he faces, in the wake of his January shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona.
According to Fox, he’ll be re-examined after “a maximum of four months, to see if his competency can be restored.” This process can be repeated more or less indefinitely. If he’s never declared fit to stand trial, “the judge can dismiss the charges against him.” Never fear, because in that case, “state and federal authorities can petition to have him civilly committed and could seek to extend that commitment repeatedly.”
Despite all this, he hasn’t formally made an “insanity plea” yet. Loughner’s lawyers still have that option, if he’s brought to trial.
Loughner was reportedly “removed from the hearing after an outburst, and had to watch part of the proceeding on a TV screen in another room.” He mumbled “Thank you for the freak show. She died in front of me,” on his way out. This might have been a reference to Christina Green, the 9/11 child who was his youngest victim. Looks like he really wanted to get back to Springfield.
The biologist Jean Rostand had a famous saying: “Kill one man, and you are a murderer. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill them all, and you are a god.” Kill six of them, including a 9-year-old girl, and act crazy enough, and you are a ward of the state. How can a criminal like Loughner ever be brought to justice, when no one sufficiently deranged to commit such offenses could be fit to stand trial?