Prosecutors seek to continue medicating Loughner

08/11/2011 02:36 pm ET | Updated Oct 11, 2011

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors have asked an appeals court to order that Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner remain forcibly medicated over the objections of his lawyers.

In a 67-page filing with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals late on Wednesday, prosecutors said prison officials had the right to give Loughner anti-psychotic drugs because he posed a danger to himself and others.

Loughner's attorneys have argued to the court that the drugs should be stopped, and that forcibly medicating the 22-year-old college dropout was a violation of his due process rights.

Loughner has pleaded not guilty to 49 criminal charges, including first-degree murder, stemming from a shooting spree on January 8 during a community event held by U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords outside a Tucson supermarket.

Six people were killed in the shooting and 13 others were wounded, including Giffords.

Loughner has been treated in a prison medical facility in Springfield, Missouri, since May 27 in an attempt to restore him to competency so he can stand trial.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys have been sparring over the drug issue since June, when a federal judge ruled that Loughner could be forcibly medicated.

The 9th Circuit initially overturned that ruling but changed direction late last month, allowing the forcible medication to go forward while the case is being appealed.

Prosecutors say Loughner poses a danger and his mental condition deteriorates after the medication is stopped. That has led him to be put on suicide watch in Missouri.

A hearing is scheduled in front of the 9th Circuit on August 30 in San Francisco.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and David Bailey)

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