Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old accused Tucson shooter, had his arraignment hearing in federal court in Phoenix, reports The Arizona Republic. Clad in an orange jump suit and shackled by the wrists to belly chains, Loughner’s displays of bizarre behavior in court seemed to suggest that a not guilty by reason of insanity plea was forthcoming, yet that was not the case. Defense attorney Judy Clarke entered a simple plea of “not guilty” for her visibly disturbed client.
While laughing, Loughner makes a plea
Courtroom sources indicate that Jared Loughner alternated between scrunching his face and laughing openly to unknown stimuli at his the arraignment hearing Jan. 24. When it comes to standing trial, Loughner’s competence may be questioned. However, attorney Judy Clarke hasn’t brought it up yet.
Loughner faces several charges. One is for attempted assassination of a member of Congress, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Two counts of attempted murder of employees of the federal government, Pam Simon and Ron Barber, are also on that list. In addition, Assistant U.S. Attorney Wallace Kleindienst told Judge Burns that further charges against Loughner are anticipated in 30 days to address the murders of U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords’ aide Gabe Zimmerman.
Lawyers agreed to waive the reading of those charges during Monday’s arraignment hearing.
Expect Loughner again March 9 in court
The next step in the process is a status conference in court in either Tucson or Phoenix March 9 to set the dates for Loughner’s trial.
If convicted, Loughner could face the death penalty for the murder of the federal employees as well as the murders of civilians Phyllis Schneck, Dorwin Stoddard, Dorothy Morris and Christina Taylor Green. The Tucson shooting case will not have any Arizona federal judges on the case because of conflict of interest. In order to do the Loughner case, Judge Burns came to Phoenix from San Diego.