|Jared L. Loughner, called a danger and a flight risk in federal court, is being held without bail.|
Few words as suspect faces court
Lawyer may push to have Ariz. case moved
PHOENIX — Jared L. Loughner, his head shaved and his hands and feet in restraints, walked into a federal court yesterday, where he agreed not to contest his continued imprisonment but offered no hint on whether he will fight the murder and attempted murder charges linking him to the Tucson shooting spree that left six dead and 14 injured.
“Yes, I am Jared Lee Loughner,’’ he told Magistrate Judge Lawrence O. Anderson, staring blankly in front of him, with his lawyer, Judy Clarke, a veteran public defender, at his side. The defendant, a 22-year-old college dropout, was wide-eyed and had a wound to his right temple. At the defense table, his eyes darted back and forth and his mouth curled up at one point into a quick smile.
Clarke, who handled the cases of Theodore J. Kaczynski, convicted in the Unabomber attacks, and Zacarias Moussaoui, the Al Qaeda operative, signaled that she intends to push for the case to be moved out of Arizona since one of the victims that her client is accused of killing was John M. Roll, a US District Court judge in Tucson.
Already, all the federal judges in Tucson have recused themselves from the case. With some of Roll’s friends and colleagues looking on in the courtroom, Clarke said she has “great concern’’ about any Arizona judges or prosecutors handling the case.
Loughner faces two federal murder charges and three attempted murder charges in an attack that was described as an attempt to assassinate Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, who was struck in the head by a single bullet but survived.
Loughner agreed not to challenge his continued detention without bail after Wallace H. Kleindienst, a federal prosecutor, labeled him a danger and a flight risk. That prompted the magistrate to quickly rule, based on the serious charges against Loughner, that he is “a danger to the community’’ and ought to be held without bail.
“Good luck to you, Mr. Loughner,’’ Anderson said as the defendant, who could face the death penalty if convicted, received a pat on the back by Clarke and was led away by security officers.
Giffords remained in critical condition yesterday after surviving a single gunshot to the head fired at close range. Doctors said they were increasingly optimistic because Giffords continued to be able to follow simple commands and there had been no additional swelling in her brain. Dr. G. Michael Lemole, chief of neurosurgery at University Medical Center at the University of Arizona, cautioned that swelling in cases like this could last days.
“At this stage in the game, no change is good,’’ Lemole said.
Doctors removed nearly half of Giffords’s skull to prevent damage to her brain caused by swelling. While Giffords has remained under sedation, hospital officials corrected earlier statements that she had been placed in a medically induced coma.
An outpouring of grief has been on display around the country since Saturday’s attack. At the start of the state Legislature’s session yesterday, Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona decided to scrap the traditional annual address laying out her legislative agenda to instead honor the dead and call upon people across the state to pray.
“Arizona is in pain, yes,’’ she said. “Our grief is profound. We are yet in the first hours of our sorrow, but we have not been brought down. We will never be brought down.’’
Even before the court appearance, the prosecutor in Pima County, where the rampage took place, vowed to pursue additional state murder charges against Loughner as well.
Besides the judge, representative, and three congressional aides wounded in the shooting, four bystanders were also killed and 11 others were injured, prompting Barbara LaWall, the Pima County attorney, to vow that she would “definitely pursue charges on behalf of the nonfederal victims.’’
County lawyers were still researching whether state and federal cases could proceed concurrently or whether her office would wait until federal prosecutors had finished their case. The state has no deadline, LaWall said, to bring the matter before a grand jury because Loughner is in federal custody.
In Washington yesterday, President Obama stood somberly with his wife, their heads bowed, overlooking the South Lawn of the White House at 11 a.m., as a bell tolled to honor the wounded and the dead.
On the steps of the East Front of the Capitol, hundreds of congressional aides gathered to mark the moment. Staff members attended an interfaith memorial service in the Cannon House office building, organized by the Congressional Jewish Staffers Association and the House and Senate chaplains.
Obama said later at the White House that the families of the shooting victims, and the nation as a whole, were still coming to grips with what happened and sorting out the lessons to be drawn, both heartbreaking and uplifting.
“Obviously all of us are still grieving and in shock from the tragedy that took place. . . . I think it’s important for us to also focus, though, on the extraordinary courage that was shown during the course of these events,’’ Obama said in the Oval Office, where he was meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France. Obama will travel to Arizona tomorrow to attend a memorial service for the shooting victims.
Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the FBI, traveled to Tucson to oversee the shooting investigation at Obama’s request. He said Sunday that agents were trying intensively to determine “why someone would commit such a heinous act and whether anyone else was involved.’’ Mueller added that discussions were underway to increase security for all members of Congress.
Capitol security agencies are planning to join the FBI tomorrow in a security briefing for members of Congress. Already, the Marshals Service has increased protection for federal judges in Arizona.
Investigators in Tucson focused their attention on Loughner, whom they accused of methodically planning the shootings.
Along with being accused of trying to kill Giffords, Loughner was charged with the killing and attempted killing of four government employees: John M. Roll, the chief federal judge in Arizona, who was killed; Gabriel M. Zimmerman, a congressional aide, who was also killed; and Pamela Simon and Ron Barber, aides who were wounded. Loughner could face the death penalty if convicted.
The gun used in the crimes was legally purchased, officials said, prompting criticism of the state’s gun laws, which allow the carrying of concealed weapons.
The revelation that a high-capacity ammunition clip was used led one longtime Senate gun control advocate, Senator Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, to announce plans to reestablish a prohibition that lapsed in 2004 on clips that feed more than 10 rounds at a time.