LOS ANGELES – Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner will be tried first in federal court in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and two staff members before he faces prosecution for most of the six deaths and 13 injuries inflicted during the rampage, authorities in Arizona said Friday.
Loughner, 22, faces one charge of attempted assassination and two of attempted murder and will likely face additional indictments in the death of a federal judge and another federal employee, charges that could carry the death penalty, said Robbie Sherwood, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona. But state prosecution of Loughner must wait until the federal cases are complete.
Loughner was arrested at the scene of the deadly Jan. 8 attack outside a Tucson supermarket. A not-guilty plea was entered for Loughner on Jan. 24.
“The U.S. attorney is still investigating into the more serious charges,” said Sherwood, explaining that charges that can carry a death penalty must go through a time-consuming capital crimes review process within the Justice Department and must be approved by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Federal officials hope to have those charges ready in time to consolidate them with the current case.
On Thursday, the office of the U.S. attorney in Arizona, asked U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns of San Diego, who is presiding over the case, to order Loughner to provide handwriting samples for comparison with documents found in a search of his home after the shootings.