PHOENIX A federal judge on Thursday ordered a June 27 competency hearing for Jared Loughner, accused of killing six people and wounding 13 others including former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in a Tucson shooting rampage last year.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns called for the hearing to be held in Tucson, Arizona, following a joint request by prosecutors and defense attorneys on Tuesday for a status hearing for the accused gunman.
In a brief order, Burns also agreed to the request that Loughner remain at a federal prison hospital in Missouri pending additional court action. His confinement was set to expire on June 7, three weeks before the scheduled hearing.
Loughner, 23, is charged with 49 criminal offenses, including first-degree murder, stemming from the January 8, 2011, shooting rampage outside a Tucson, Arizona, supermarket, which killed a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge, among others.
Giffords, an Arizona Democrat seen as a rising star in the U.S. Congress, was shot through the head at close range. She resigned her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in January to focus on her recovery.
Loughner pleaded not guilty, and Burns declared him mentally unfit to stand trial last May after two government experts concluded that he suffered from schizophrenia, disordered thinking and delusions.
He is being treated at a U.S. Bureau of Prisons psychiatric hospital, where he is forcibly medicated to treat psychosis.
The request for a hearing came days before a deadline for submission of a report on efforts to make Loughner mentally fit to stand trial. It was not immediately clear if the psychologist treating him has submitted the report.
In February, Burns gave doctors four more months to restore Loughner's competency, saying that "measurable progress" has been made by those treating him.
(Editing by Tim Gaynor)