Loughner returns to Arizona for Wednesday hearing

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Prosecutors have again urged a judge to throw out a request by the Tucson shooting rampage suspect’s lawyers to halt his forced medication.

Jared Lee Loughner’s lawyers argue that U.S. District Judge Larry Burns should stop the forced medication of their mentally ill client with psychotropic drugs because it’s unlawful.

A prison facility in Missouri where Loughner was being treated decided earlier this month that his forced medication needed to continue because he posed a danger to himself.

Prosecutors say the decision to medicate Loughner was lawful and that he was given due-process rights.

Loughner pleaded not guilty to 49 charges stemming from the Jan. 8 shooting that killed six and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Loughner returned to Arizona on Monday after spending four months at the prison facility in Springfield, Mo., where experts were trying to make him mentally fit to stand trial.

Loughner faces a hearing Wednesday in Tucson where a judge will consider whether the 23-year-old can be made mentally fit for trial and whether to extend his four-month stay in Springfield, Mo., by another eight months.

Burns required Loughner’s presence at the hearing in Tucson even though defense lawyers objected to it and argued that traveling would be disruptive for their mentally ill client.

Loughner wanted to attend the hearing because he wants to see his parents, who live in Tucson.

Four months ago, Burns found Loughner mentally unfit to stand trial after mental health experts concluded Loughner suffers from schizophrenia.

Prosecutors asked the judge to extend Loughner’s stay at the Missouri prison by another eight months.

Loughner’s attorneys argue that prosecutors haven’t proven that there’s a substantial probability their client’s mental condition can be improved so that he can go to trial.