updated 3/23/2011 8:09:45 PM ET 2011-03-24T00:09:45

The suspect in the January shooting rampage in Tucson has been transferred to a specialized facility in Missouri to undergo a court-ordered mental evaluation.

Lawyers for 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner say in a court filing that he was taken from Tucson to a federal Bureau of Prisons medical facility in Springfield, Mo., on Wednesday.

The lawyers want an appeals court to order him returned.

Loughner will be given tests to determine if he understands the nature and consequences of the charges he faces and can assist in his defense.

Loughner has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the Jan. 8 attack that killed six and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. She remains at a rehabilitation center in Houston as she recovers from a bullet wound to the brain.

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Judge Larry Burns issued the order Monday requiring the mental exam to be done at a federal Bureau of Prisons facility in Springfield, Mo., and a videotape of the session to be provided to prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Burns also wrote that Loughner's attorneys can seek a separate competency exam by an independent psychiatrist.

Defense lawyers contend a mental exam could cause irreparable harm to their client's rights while the matter is reviewed by the courts.

"Mr. Loughner would be transferred 1,500 miles away from his attorneys to be subjected to competency evaluations conducted in an unlawful manner, and confidential material to which the government has no right would be revealed to the prosecution," wrote Judy Clarke, Loughner's lead attorney.

Clarke also asked the judge to reconsider the transfer of Loughner to Missouri and the restrictions he imposed on a possible independent exam.

She wants a court-appointed examiner to do the evaluation of Loughner at the federal penitentiary in Tucson, where he has been held.

Robbie Sherwood, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Arizona, which is prosecuting Loughner, declined to comment on the defense move.

Loughner, 22, has pleaded not guilty to dozens of federal charges stemming from the Jan. 8 attack that killed six people and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

The charges include murdering U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, along with trying to assassinate Giffords.

In a separate court filing, Burns granted a request by prosecutors to prevent the Pima County Sheriff's Office from releasing records of the probe to the Washington Post. The sheriff's office joined the FBI in investigating the shooting.

Burns wrote that Loughner's right to a fair trial outweighs whatever disclosures might be authorized under state public records law.

Such a release of records would intensify publicity in a case that has already received heavy coverage, Burns wrote.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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