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Judge to weigh Tucson shooting suspect's competency

By Pete Williams
     NBC News Justice Correspondent

With the attention on Rep. Gabriel Giffords, here's an update on the status of Jared Loughner, the man accused of shooting her. He remains at a federal prison in Springfield, Mo., where doctors have resumed giving him drugs to treat what they say is schizophrenia.

Ho / Reuters

Tuscon shooting rampage suspect Jared Lee Loughner is pictured in this undated booking photograph released on February 22, 2011.

In late May, the federal judge overseeing the case against Loughner declared him mentally unfit to stand trial and ordered him sent to Missouri for up to four months of treatment. After Loughner refused to take medication, hospital doctors decided on June 21 to begin giving it to him against his will, finding that he was a danger to himself and others. Loughner's lawyers objected, and a federal court ordered the medication stopped. Doctors complied and stopped medicating him on July 2.

But on July 18, doctors resumed forced medication after finding that Loughner's condition had seriously deteriorated. They said Loughner was depressed, his speech was slowed and he complained of feeling helpless. "He also reported that the radio was talking to him and inserting thoughts into his mind," prison reports said. He began pacing his cell, screaming loudly, and crying for hours at a time. In mid-July, he told a prison doctor, "I want do die. Give me the injection, kill me now." A federal court declined to stop the prison from resuming the forced medication.

The judge overseeing the case will consider in late September whether Loughner's competency to stand trial has been restored.