Possible Plea Deal for Shooter in Rep. Giffords Attack

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New details in the on-going case of Tuscon, Arizona shooter Jared Le Loughner have revealed that a possible plea deal may be in the making.

Loughner, who is responsible for killing six and injuring 13 people including former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during his January 2011 rampage, would enter a guilty plea in exchange for life in prison. The source, who chose to remain anonymous, said the deal is contingent on the judge overseeing the case accepting the plea. On Tuesday, a court-appointed psychiatrist will testify that Loughner is competent to enter a plea.

The Los Angeles Times broke the story on Saturday, reporting that Loughner was set to plea. Bill Solomon, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office handling the case, said he could not comment on the case or rumors of a forthcoming guilty plea. Lougher faces a total of 49 federal charges related to the Jan 8. 2011 shooting. The attorney’s office of Pima County, where the incident took place, has said that it could also seek state charges against Loughner, but spokeswoman Isabel Burruel Smutzer declined comment on the possible plea.

Loughner attacked a Tuscon supermarket where Giffords was hosting a meet-and-greet event with supporters. According to reports, he shot Giffords first, and then opened fire on the rest of the crowd, striking 19 people before being disarmed by bystanders. Giffords was struck in the head, and was forced to leave Congress to recover. U.S. Rep Ron Barber, a Giffords aide who was shot twice by Loughner, was elected to replace Giffords in June.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns had previously ruled that Loughner was not psychologically fit to stand trial, but that he could be made ready following rehabilitation. Experts believe that Loughner suffers from schizophrenia, leading to Loughner being forcibly treated with psychotropic drugs in his Missouri prison. Though Loughner’s condition is said to be improving, his defense lawyers have tried to stop the forced treatment.

In May of 2011, Loughner was removed from court after breaking into an angry rant. In the time since he began medication, he has not had any similar outbursts. During his last court hearing in September 2011, Loughner sat expressionless for seven hours.

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