Loughner’s lawyer, Judy Clarke, has a former client roster of several high-profile defendants including Timothy McVeigh,Ted Kaczinsky, and convicted 9/11 co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.
According to reporters present in the courtroom today, Loughner’s demeanor was placid and unemotional as he entered Room 302 of the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Courthouse.
Loughner, whose head has been shaved, was dressed in the tan clothing of an inmate, shackled by handcuffs, and escorted by about a dozen uniformed United States Marshalls.
Loughner’s only comment was to respond “Yes” when asked by the presiding magistrate if he understood that he could get life in prison or the death penalty if convicted of the murder of federal Judge John Roll, one of the six who were killed Saturday in Tucson.
As reported earlier in The New American, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed a five count complaint against Jared Loughner. Two counts formally accuse him of the unlawful killing of U.S. District Judge John Roll and Gabriel Zimmerman, an aide to Representative Giffords. The remaining counts in the complaint accuse Loughner of the attempted unlawful killing of a member of Congress and of two other federal employees.
According to a story published in the Washington Post:
Local authorities said Arizona is likely to file state murder charges against Jared Loughner in Saturday's mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., in addition to the federal counts he already faces.
Capt. Chris Nanos of the Pima County sheriff's department said Monday that deputies will recommend to the county attorney that Loughner be charged with at least four counts of murder and additional counts of attempted murder or aggravated assault.
The murder charges would cover the four victims who died who were not federal employees, and the other state charges would cover injured victims who do not work for the federal government.
"Without a doubt, we will be pursuing more charges,'' Nanos said. "We have four homicide victims. We hope to have these charges issued pretty quickly.''
While the state of Arizona will file its own set of charges based on the crimes of murder of which Loughner will be accused, the complaint filed in federal court by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona concerns the federal laws Loughner is accused of violating: 18 U.S.C. §§351(c); 1111, 1113, and 1114.
According to the information provided in the probable cause affidavit of FBI Special Agent Tony M. Taylor, Jr., when Loughner’s residence was searched, authorities discovered that a safe contained a letter from Rep. Giffords to the defendant, thanking him for attending a 2007 event.
"Also recovered in the safe was an envelope with handwriting on the envelope stating 'I planned ahead,' and 'my assassination' and the name 'Giffords,' along with what appears to be Loughner's signature," the affidavit asserts.
Loughner will continue his confinement in federal prison in Arizona pending the issuing of a formal indictment and hearing on the same by a grand jury. Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure mandate that such a hearing take place within 30 days of the defendant’s initial appearance before a judge.
Photo of Jared Loughner: AP Images