Jared Loughner pleads not guilty

A hectic weak of pre-trial activity culminates in a court appearance for the Tucson shooter

Topics: Jared Loughner, Gabrielle Giffords,

Jared Loughner pleads not guiltyFILE - This photo released Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, by the U.S. Marshal's Service shows Jared Loughner. A judge on Wednesday, March 9, 2011 will consider whether to order the suspect in the Tucscon, Ariz., shooting rampage to give handwriting samples to compare with documents seized in a search of his home. (AP Photo/U.S. Marshal's Office, File)(Credit: AP)

Jared Lee Loughner was in court today on 49 new charges stemming from January’s shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and numerous bystanders. Loughner is accused of killing six people and wounding 13. This is the latest in a string of recent developments in the Loughner case:

  • On March 1, Loughner’s lawyers requested that autopsy results from the victims of the Tucson shooting not be released to the public, fearing that they could taint the jury pool.
  • Last Thursday, defense attorneys accused the FBI of using prison psychologists to spy on Loughner. The lawyers requested that the psychologists be barred from sharing further information on Loughner with the FBI. They stated that the jailed shooter had invoked the Fifth Amendment — which protects suspects from self-incrimination — shortly after his arrest.
  • Then on Friday, a federal grand jury handed up a new 49-charge indictment against Loughner that formally accuses him of killing six people — including a federal judge and a congressional aide — and wounding 13 more. Normally, most of the charges, including the attacks on non-federal employees, would be handled in a state court. Prosecutors argue that because the crimes were committed during a public event sponsored by Giffords, the charges should be honored in a federal court. The new accusations bring with them even weightier consequences. Lougner could now face the death penalty, if convicted. He had already pleaded not guilty to charges that he planned to assassinate Giffords and two of her aides.
  • On Monday, prosecutors filed a request with a federal judge that Loughner be examined by a psychiatrist to evaluate his mental competency. They presented widely disseminated YouTube videos created by Loughner, as well as his MySpace page, as evidence that he “may have mental issues.” The prosecutors insist that evaluation is now necessary to determine whether or not Loughner is capable of understanding the proceedings of the trial, and to avoid a delay in the progress of the case. 
  • Today, Loughner was arraigned in a U.S. District Court in Tuscson on the 49 charges handed up on Friday. He pleaded not guilty.  

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