PHOENIX (AP) — Tucson shooting rampage suspect Jared Lee Loughner was put on a 24-hour suicide watch this month at a federal prison in Missouri after he asked a staff psychologist to kill him, federal prosecutors said in newly released court documents.
A 24-page filing by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tucson also said prison staff report that Loughner has been pacing in circles near his cell door, screaming loudly, crying for hours at a time and claiming to hear messages from a radio.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday night denied an emergency motion by defense lawyers to keep prison officials from forcibly medicating Loughner with a psychotropic drug.
Calls to lead Loughner attorney Judy Clarke weren't immediately returned Saturday.
Loughner, 22, has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges in the Jan. 8 shooting that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. He's been at a federal prison facility in Springfield, Mo., since May 27 after a federal judge concluded he was mentally unfit to help in his legal defense.
Mental health experts have determined Loughner suffers from schizophrenia and are trying to make him psychologically fit to stand trial. Federal prosecutors claim Loughner should remain medicated because he may be a danger to himself and his mental and physical condition was rapidly deteriorating.
Loughner was forcibly medicated between June 21 and July 1 after prison officials determined his outbursts there posed a danger to others. He was given twice daily doses of Risperidone, a drug used for people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe behavior problems.
Prison officials stopped doing that on July 2 after the 9th Circuit granted his lawyers' request for a temporary stay of involuntary medication.
While being examined on July 8, Loughner said he was depressed, felt hopeless and "reported that the radio was talking to him and inserting thoughts into his mind," a staff psychologist said in the prosecutors' new filing.
Loughner was then put on suicide watch and prison staff said he displayed "bizarre" and "hyper sexed behavior" from July 8-12 along with an "inability to cope with grief, stress and severe anxiety."
A psychologist said Loughner told her on July 13 that "I want to die. Give me the injection, kill me now" and then sobbed uncontrollably for 55 minutes. From July 14-18, prison staff reported Loughner pacing for hours in his cell, appearing confused and disoriented, barely eating his meals and surviving on minimal sleep.
Records show the prison's medical and psychology staff feared Loughner's condition could worsen without immediate care and resumed medicating him on Tuesday.
Loughner's attorneys argued that his due-process rights were being violated and filed an emergency motion Thursday with the 9th Circuit, asking that the forced medication be stopped until his appeal is resolved.
If Loughner is later determined to be competent enough for trial, the court proceedings will resume. If he isn't deemed competent at the end of his four-month treatment, Loughner's stay at the facility can be extended.
Loughner's lawyers haven't said whether they intend to present an insanity defense, but they have noted in court filings that his mental condition will likely be a central issue at trial.