Jared Lee Loughner was charged with killing six people in a Jan. 8 shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona, as U.S. prosecutors broadened their case to include victims who weren’t federal employees.
Loughner, 22, was charged in a 49-count grand jury indictment with the murder of U.S. District Judge John M. Roll and Gabriel M. Zimmerman, an aide to U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, as well as the slaying of four other Arizona residents who attended Giffords’s community meeting outside a Tucson supermarket.
The four people killed, including a 9-year-old girl, who weren’t federal employees were participating in a federally provided activity, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke in Phoenix said today in a statement. Loughner may face the death penalty if convicted on the murder charges, according to the statement.
“These final four Arizonans’ lives were extinguished while exercising one of the most precious rights of American citizens, the right to meet freely and openly with their Member of Congress,” Burke said in the statement.
The indictment follows an earlier one in which Loughner was charged with attempting to assassinate Giffords, who survived a gunshot through the head, and the attempted murder of two of her aides at the community meeting. Loughner pleaded not guilty to those charges on Jan. 24. The superseding indictment also charges Loughner with injuring the participants who weren’t federal employees.
March 9 Hearing
Larry A. Burns, the San Diego-based federal judge who was assigned to the case after U.S. judges in Arizona recused themselves, has set a hearing in Tucson for March 9, when Loughner is expected to answer to the new charges. Burns has said he wants the trial to start no later than Sept. 20.
Judy Clarke, Loughner’s lead lawyer, didn’t immediately return a call to her office.
The significant expansion of the case may make a September trial date overly ambitious, Marcellus McRae, a trial lawyer with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP in Los Angeles and a former federal prosecutor, said in a telephone interview.
“It certainly reflects a desire by the government to be comprehensive,” McRae, who isn’t involved in the case, said.
It is possible prosecutors will streamline the case and not bring duplicative charges, such as the numerous counts of using a firearm in committing a violent crime, so as not to confuse jurors, McRae said.
13 People Wounded
Roll and Zimmerman were among those killed before bystanders tackled the suspect. Thirteen people were wounded. Roll, 63, was the chief judge of Arizona federal court. He had gone to the meeting to thank Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, for her help with the shortage of jurists in the state.
Loughner told police he was “taking the Fifth,” a reference to his constitutional right not to incriminate himself, after he was arrested, his lawyers said in a March 1 court filing. That filing was a request for a court order barring prison officials from providing their observations of Loughner’s behavior in prison to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The superseding indictment also charges Loughner with using, carrying, brandishing and discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and causing death through the use of a firearm.
The case is U.S. v. Loughner, 11-00187, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix).
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