Judge denies defense request for Loughner videos

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A federal judge in Arizona on Tuesday denied a request from lawyers for the Tucson shooting suspect that all of his competency interviews be videotaped.

Jared Lee Loughner has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges in the Jan. 8 shooting that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The 23-year-old is being forcibly medicated at a Missouri prison facility in an effort to make him mentally ready for trial.

Attorneys for Loughner have said that failing to videotape the interviews could result in the loss of potentially critical evidence in the case. But U.S. District Judge Larry Burns in Tucson ruled the defense’s request is overbroad, adding that they are free to videotape any interactions between Loughner and their own experts.

“The court therefore reaffirms its conclusion that providing the defense the opportunity at a future competency hearing to cross-examine the government’s witnesses and call witnesses of its own are adequate adversarial safeguards to protect the defendant’s due process and fair trial rights,” Burns wrote in his four-page ruling.

Meanwhile Tuesday, prosecutors filed a 56-page motion to dismiss the defense’s appeal of the forced medication issue “because it is moot.”

Loughner’s lawyers filed a 45-page brief Monday that challenges Burns’ decision in late August that allowed prison doctors to continue to forcibly medicate the suspect.

Loughner has been at the Springfield, Mo., prison since late May after mental health experts determined he suffers from schizophrenia. He was forcibly medicated between June 21 and July 1 after prison doctors found he was a danger to others.

Prison officials said Loughner kept himself awake for 50 hours straight after an appeals court stopped the forced medication of anti-psychotic drugs on July 1. They also said Loughner walked in circles until he developed sores and then declined antibiotics to treat an infected foot.

Already thin, he stopped eating and shed nine pounds. The prison resumed medication July 18 after doctors found Loughner’s condition has significantly worsened and that he was a danger to himself. He also was put on a suicide watch.

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