An anonymous source close to the case says that Jared Lee Loughner, the man charged with killing six people and injuring 13, including former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, is expected to plead guilty of the shooting. A court-appointed psychiatrist will testify that he is mentally sound enough to be tried. With a guilty plea Loughner will get life in prison.
This would be a change for Loughner. Earlier he pleaded not guilty to 49 federal charges related to the shooting. Being declared mentally sound to stand trial would also be a change for Loughner. A previous judge had ruled that he wasn't fit, but that he could become ready with the right treatment. Loughner is reportedly being forcibly medicated -- against his lawyers' wishes.
He has been diagnosed as schizophrenic and is being given psychotropic drugs at the Missouri prison where he is being held. Loughner has gone from ranting in the courtroom to sitting quietly through a seven-hour hearing. His psychologist says the medication is improving his condition.
Is it ethical to forcibly medicate someone so they can stand trial? I have to admit, the idea of it makes me squirm. But in this context -- a man who shot into a crowd, killing some and severely disabling a Congresswoman -- I feel like it's justified. It's funny how your ideals can change depending on the circumstance.
It seems pretty clear that Loughner was mentally ill when he shot all those people. But I think he still needs to be held accountable for his actions, even if he committed them when he was out of his mind. We'll find out Tuesday at his next hearing if he really is ready to take responsibility for his terrible actions.
Did you know a prisoner could be forcibly medicated against their will?
Image via Pima County Sheriff's Office