Loughner returns to Arizona for Wednesday hearing

September 27, 2011 - 8:00 AM

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The suspect in the Tucson shooting rampage has been transported to Arizona after spending months at a Missouri prison facility where experts were trying to make him mentally fit to stand trial.

Jared Lee Loughner faces a hearing Wednesday in Tucson where a judge will consider whether the 23-year-old can be made mentally fit for trial and whether to extend his four-month stay in Springfield, Mo., by another eight months.

The Federal Bureau of Prison website showed early Tuesday that Loughner was being held at the maximum-security U.S. Penitentiary at the Federal Correctional Complex in Tucson.

Loughner has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges stemming from the Jan. 8 shooting that killed six and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns required Loughner's presence at the hearing in Tucson even though defense lawyers objected to it and argued that traveling would be disruptive for their mentally ill client.

Loughner wanted to attend the hearing because he wants to see his parents, who live in Tucson.

Four months ago, Burns found Loughner mentally unfit to stand trial after mental health experts concluded Loughner suffers from schizophrenia.

Prison officials have forcibly medicated Loughner with psychotropic drugs after concluding he posed a danger at the prison.

Prosecutors asked the judge to extend Loughner's stay at the Missouri prison by another eight months.

Loughner's attorneys argue that prosecutors haven't proven that there's a substantial probability their client's mental condition can be improved so that he can go to trial.