Speculation mounts on Loughner proceedings; Giffords returns to rehab; Green family honored; Honors for sheriff and 911 operators

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- As the case against the alleged Safeway shooter currently sits, it'll be many months before he stands trial.

But Jared Loughner's trial could be delayed indefinitely if he's found incompetent to face the charges.

The doctors who evaluated Jared Loughner's mental state will not be present at his competency hearing.

And the prosecution and defense both agree not to dispute the findings. That has many legal experts speculating the judge will find him incompetent to stand trial.

"It implies from their conduct that they're agreeing he has substantial mental issues that need to be addressed," said U of A Law School professor Roy Spece.

But that doesn't mean the case will end there.

"If he's declared incompetent, he'll go into the restoration program. If he's declared competent, the case will move forward as far as the trial is concerned," said defense attorney Brick Storts.

Prominent Tucson defense attorney Brick Storts, who's not associated with the Loughner case, says the next step if Loughner's found incompetent will be an attempt to restore his competency.

That means the government will try to educate him on the proceedings, likely medicate him with anti-psychotic drugs, forcibly if need be, and every couple months re-evaluate him.

When he's finally found competent, his case will resume.

Along the way, the defense can be expected to slow the process.

"I would assume the defense doesn't want to help the government do anything to pursue its case. So, I'm sure they're going to be opposed to any type of forced medication," said Storts.

Storts and U of A law professor Roy Spece believe Loughner eventually will stand trial.

"There's a good chance even if he is incompetent, he can be restored to competence," said Spece.

If the process takes months or even years, it could be extremely frustrating for everyone looking for justice for the January 8 shootings.  Both legal experts agree Loughner isn't likely to ever go free.

"The likelihood of him ever getting out of an institution, either a mental institution or a prison by the time he dies is remote," said Spece.

Loughner's hearing begins Wednesday at 11 A.M. Legal experts believe the judge will make a ruling at the hearing because he's had time to review the reports.


TUCSON, Ariz. --  Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords returned to her Houston rehab hospital Tuesday, where she continues to recover from her wounds from the January 8 shootings.

Doctors reportedly found no signs of infection following last week's surgery which replaced a missing portion of her skull with a plastic implant and installed a shunt to drain excess fluid on the brain.


TUCSON, Ariz. -- Tuesday afternoon at the Omni Tucson National resort, Roxanna Green, the mother of Christina-Taylor Green received the Crystal Cornea award from the Eye Bank Association of America.

The award is in honor of Christina who gave the gift of sight through the donations of her corneas.

"I feel very honored to receive the award of course its bitter sweet because I wish my daughter was still with us, but I know she would be very proud to receive the award," said Christina-Taylor Green's Mother Roxanna Green.

"Her generous gift has allowed 2 other people who previously could not see or could not see clearly to be able to expand their sight," Patricia Aiken-O'Neill of the Eye Bank Association of America.

This is just the eight time in 20 years the award has been handed out.


TUCSON, Ariz. -- National honors for members of the Pima County Sheriff's department.

The Association of Public Safety communications officials selected PCSD communications for its 2011 team of the year award for its handling of the January 8 Safeway shootings.

Within three minutes of the incident, three people handled 30 911 calls, and moved quickly to dispatch police and emergency personnel to the shopping center at Ina and Oracle.

The same group honored the City of Tucson's Shayl McCormick as its 911 line Supervisor of the Year.

Her swift actions on January 8, arranging for a regional alert to area hospitals and helping other dispatchers prepare for further requests of assistance, helped to save lives that day.

Both McCormick and the Pima County Sheriff's Department will receive their awards August 7 in Philadelphia.