The man accused of carrying out the mass shooting in Tucson pleaded not guilty Monday afternoon in a Phoenix courtroom — an initial step in a case against Jared Loughner that could take years to wind its way through the criminal justice system.
Both federal and state authorities intend to prosecute Loughner in the January 8 shootings. There will also likely be proceedings over whether to move the case to a different venue, a possible insanity defense, and prosecutors’ push for the death penalty.
The Tucson man is charged with the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the attempted murder of two of her aides. He is accused of opening fire on a Giffords political event that wounded 13 people and killed six others, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl who was born on Sept. 11, 2001.
Loughner will later face state charges dealing with the other victims following the outcome of the federal case.
The case was moved to Phoenix because one of the six dead, U.S. District Judge John Roll, was based in Tucson and federal judges there recused themselves. All the federal judges in the rest of the state soon joined them, and a San Diego-based judge is now assigned to the case.
Now that Loughner has entered a plea of not guilty, the question arises whether he will claim an insanity defense.
Before the case even gets to trial, the court would have to decide whether Loughner is mentally competent to stand trial. If he isn’t, he would be sent to a federal facility for a minimum of four months to see if they can restore his competency. It could be up to a two-month wait just to get him into one of those facilities.
Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.
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