Accused Tucson shooter to appear in federal court

PHOENIX Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:27am EST

An artist's depiction shows Jared Lee Loughner (L), the Arizona man accused of shooting 20 people while trying to assassinate U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords over the weekend, and his attorney public defender Judy Clarke during a court appearance in Phoenix, Arizona January 10, 2011. REUTERS/Joan Andrew

An artist's depiction shows Jared Lee Loughner (L), the Arizona man accused of shooting 20 people while trying to assassinate U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords over the weekend, and his attorney public defender Judy Clarke during a court appearance in Phoenix, Arizona January 10, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Joan Andrew

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Tucson shooting rampage suspect Jared Loughner is due to appear in federal court on Monday on charges of attempting to assassinate Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the attempted murder of two of her staff members.

A troubled 22-year-old college dropout, Loughner is accused of opening fire on Giffords and a crowd of bystanders outside a grocery store in north Tucson on January 8, killing six people, including federal judge John Roll.

He will be arraigned on the three counts of attempted assassination and attempted murder in U.S. District Court in central Phoenix at 1:30 p.m. before District Judge Larry Burns.

The mass killings triggered debates about gun control in the United States, and the increasingly vitriolic tone in U.S. politics, although the motives for the attack are unclear.

A federal judge from California, Burns was appointed to the case after Roll's colleagues on the Arizona federal bench recused themselves from hearing the case.

Authorities said that Giffords was the primary target in the attack, in which she was shot through the head at point-blank range.

She was transferred to a rehabilitation facility in Houston, Texas, on Friday, following life-saving surgery and intensive care at the University Medical Center in Tucson in the days after the shooting.

A federal grand jury indictment brought on Wednesday did not include any murder charges for Roll, the chief federal judge in Arizona who had stopped at the supermarket store to talk to Giffords, or Gabe Zimmerman, the lawmaker's director of community outreach.

Before the government can charge Loughner for the murders of Roll and Zimmerman -- and because such charges could carry the death penalty -- prosecutors must first seek review by the Justice Department and ultimately approval from Attorney General Eric Holder to seek the death penalty."

Loughner faces up to life in prison if convicted of Giffords' attempted assassination, and up to 20 years for the attempted murder of her two staff members.

A five-count criminal complaint filed the day after the shooting included two first-degree murder charges for the deaths of Roll and Zimmerman.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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Comments (2)
BurnerJack wrote:
With so many witnesses, both on site and those who give character witness as to mental health etc., is a trial really necessary?
Seems like “lawyer welfare” to me.
I would submit a dangerousness hearing and fast track to the Rubber Room is all that is required. The taxpayer has enough to spend money on and the courts are equally burdened.

Jan 23, 2011 1:55pm EST  --  Report as abuse
ROWnine wrote:
Does in really matter to anyone but the tabloids why he separated these people from their friends, family from their loved ones and forever altered their lives. If such a thing as rehabilitation is even remotely possible in this guys future, I am willing to bet against any hedge fund that a super majority would opt for a speedy execution, viable organ transplants and dissection at a local medical school all for the benefit of the community he devistated.

Jan 23, 2011 11:33pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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