Loughner researched death penalty before shooting

Another piece of information to add to the increasingly bizarre portrait of the troubled student turned assassin

By Justin Spees
Published January 27, 2011 12:27AM (UTC)
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In this artist rendering, Jared Lee Loughner, right, makes a court appearance with his lawyer, Judy Clarke, at the Sandra Day O'Connor United States Courthouse in Phoenix, Ariz., Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. Loughner pled not guilty to charges he tried to kill U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz, in a shooting rampage that left six people dead. (AP Photo/Bill Robles) (AP)

Sources close to the investigation disclosed today that Jared Loughner researched lethal injection and solitary confinement in the days and weeks before his shooting rampage in Tucson. He also looked up information about past political assassins.

The information was obtained by police after a search of his laptop. Prosecutors hope to use the evidence to prove that Loughner was sane enough to understand that his actions would have consequences.


It all adds an additional level of complexity to the Loughner's public persona that's been developed over the past few weeks. His peers have indicated that he grew increasingly isolated over the past year, with some contending that he was losing his grip on reality. But this new information suggests that he was aware of the potential consequences of his actions -- a detail that complicates the potential for an insanity plea. Perhaps these details also mean that he believed the assassination of a public figure was worth jail time or possibly even the death penalty.

Loughner's next hearing is scheduled for March 9 in Tucson.

Justin Spees

Justin Spees is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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