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Jared Loughner may plead guilty to Arizona shooting

Category: Headlines

Published: 7th Aug 2012 18:35:40

The man accused of shooting a US congresswoman in Arizona could enter a guilty plea later if a judge finds him mentally competent.

Last year, experts said Jared Loughner, 23, had schizophrenia and his case was put on hold.

A psychiatrist is due to testify that he is competent to enter a plea, which could spare him the death penalty.

Former Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords left office and continues to recover from the January 2011 attack.

She said she would be satisfied with Mr Loughner's plea deal. Her husband Mark Kelly wrote: "The pain and loss caused by the events of January 8, 2011, are incalculable.

"Avoiding a trial will allow us - and we hope the whole Southern Arizona community - to continue with our recovery and move forward with our lives."

Mr Loughner has been forcibly medicated with psychotropic drugs for more than a year at a prison hospital in Springfield, Missouri.

A not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf last year.

He is due in court at 11:00 local time (18:00 GMT) for a competency hearing, followed by a change-of-plea hearing if he is found mentally fit.

Mr Loughner is charged with 49 criminal counts including first-degree murder.

Tuesday's proceedings will be the fourth time he appears in court for a judge to determine his mental competence.

In May 2011 Mr Loughner was declared unfit to stand trial after he had an outburst in the courtroom.

His stay in hospital had been previously extended after a judge found that "measureable progress" had been made by those treating him.

The college dropout is suspected of killing six people and wounding 13 others, including the former congresswoman, in an attack in Tucson, Arizona.

Ms Giffords, a Democrat, was holding a regular constituency event at a supermarket when she was shot in the head at close range.

A federal judge and a nine-year-old girl were among the victims of the shooting.

Ms Giffords' seat is now occupied by Ron Barber, her former aide, who was also injured in the shooting. He is standing for re-election to a full two-year term in November.

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BBC News, 2012. Jared Loughner may plead guilty to Arizona shooting [Online] (Updated 7th Aug 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1445016/Jared-Loughner-may-plead-guilty-to-Arizona-shooting [Accessed 2nd Sep 2014]

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