U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ruled in an emergency hearing today that prison officials could force Jared Lee Loughner, charged in the Tucson, Ariz., shooting that left six dead and 13 wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, to take anti-psychotic medication.
In his decision, Burns said he was deferring to trained psychiatrists and medical personnel in Missouri, where Loughner has been confined in a prison medical facility, who have found Loughner to be dangerous.
The emergency hearing came after the release of a new court filing that offered insight into Loughner's disturbing behavior and raised more questions about whether he could ever be considered psychologically fit enough to stand trial.
Tuesday's filing said that on April 4 Loughner spat at his lawyer and lunged at her before prison staff restrained him.
The filing also said that an angry Loughner used profanities and threw a plastic chair at a psychiatrist multiple times during a taped interview on March 28. He also hurled a wet toilet paper roll at a camera that was in the room.
Prosecutors have used these incidents to argue in the court filings that Loughner should be given anti-psychotic medication. They claim he is a danger to others.
But Loughner's lawyers argued that he should not be forced to take medications without court approval. And that approval came today.
His attorneys have not said whether they planned on using an insanity defense, but they did say in filings that his mental state would be a main focus, according to The Associated Press.
Last month, Burns ruled that Loughner was not competent to stand trial because he was a paranoid schizophrenic and delusional. The judge has also denied two requests from Loughner's attorneys that they be notified before he is medicated.
Loughner has been held at a prison medical facility in Springfield, Mo., where psychiatrists are trying to restore his mental health so that he can participate in court proceedings. He arrived at the facility on May 28 and could spend up to four months there.
Loughner has pleaded not guilty to the 49 charges against him stemming from the Jan. 8 shooting.
If it is ever ruled that Loughner is sufficiently psychologically fit to participate in the trial and understand the charges against him, court proceedings would resume, according to The Associated Press. Otherwise, Loughner's stay at the medical facility with the mental health experts could be extended.