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Jared Loughner pleads not guilty to trying to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

At an arraignment Monday, Tucson shooting suspect Jared Loughner enters a not-guilty plea in the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and two members of her staff.

January 24, 2011|By Nicholas Riccardi | Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Phoenix — Jared Loughner on Monday pleaded not guilty to charges that he tried to assassinate U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and two members of her staff in the course of a shooting rampage that killed six people.

Loughner's attorney, Judy Clarke, asked U.S. District Judge Larry Burns to enter the plea on her client's behalf. Dressed in an orange jump suit, Loughner smiled broadly throughout his appearance and at one point chortled while talking with his lawyer.

The arraignment Monday afternoon was Loughner's second court appearance since the Tucson shooting spree on Jan. 8. Federal prosecutors have previously charged him with murder but are rolling out new indictments via the grand jury so they can avoid revealing their evidence at a preliminary hearing.

Loughner, who appeared in his booking photo smiling and with a shaved head, was smiling again as he walked into the courtroom shackled at the hands and feet. Some of his hair has grown back on his head. He sat next to Clarke, crossed his feet and leaned back, apparently relaxed. He looked up at the domed ceiling of the special proceedings courtroom, which is normally used for ceremonial procedures, and flashed another satisfied grin. He remained silent during the nine-minute hearing.

The 22-year-old Loughner could face the death penalty for the shooting because those killed include one of Giffords' staff and the presiding judge of the federal courthouse in Tucson. All Arizona federal judges have recused themselves, and the judge hearing the case, Larry A. Burns, has traveled to Phoenix from San Diego.

In the days after the shooting, the case was moved from Tucson to the courthouse here. But federal prosecutors are seeking to move subsequent hearings back to Tucson to make it easier for victims of the attack to witness proceedings.

Giffords on Monday continued to recuperate at a Houston hospital linked to a nationally known rehabilitation center. The hospital on Sunday said she was improving but would remain in the intensive-care unit for the time being.

nicholas.riccardi@latimes.com

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