Man accused in Giffords shooting pleads not guilty


In this artist rendering, Jared Lee Loughner, right, makes a court appearance with his lawyer, Judy Clarke, at the Sandra Day O'Connor United States Courthouse in Phoenix, Ariz., Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. Loughner pled not guilty to charges he tried to kill U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz, in a shooting rampage that left six people dead.

The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 8:07 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 8:07 a.m.

PHOENIX, Arizona — The 22-year-old man accused in a deadly Arizona rampage that critically wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has made his first public statement regarding the shooting: He's not guilty.

Jared Loughner, from Tucson, Arizona, entered the plea Monday to federal charges of trying to assassinate Giffords and kill two of her aides. He also faces murder charges in the deaths of a federal judge and another Giffords aide killed in the Tucson shootings, and more charges were expected.

Loughner had his wrists cuffed to a chain around his waist; eight U.S. marshals kept watch in the packed Phoenix courtroom and gallery above. Investigators have said Loughner was mentally disturbed and acting increasingly erratic in the weeks before the attack on Jan. 8 that killed six and wounded 13.

Giffords, a three-term Democratic congresswoman, was shot in the forehead and spent two weeks in a Tucson hospital before she was flown to Houston to begin her rehabilitation. Among the six who died in the attack at a constituent event was a 9-year-old girl who was interested in politics and was taken there by a neighbor to meet Giffords.

Christina Taylor Green's family, as well as a Giffords intern who cared for the congresswoman after she was shot, are expected to attend President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night. Daniel Hernandez was hailed as a hero for rushing to Giffords' side and applying pressure to her wounds before paramedics arrived.

Also expected to attend the address is the four-member Arizona medical team that treated Giffords, her office said Monday. Her new medical team in Houston said the next update on her condition would come when they are ready to move Giffords to the rehab hospital.

Loughner's hearing Monday did not offer any indication of a defense strategy. His attorney, Judy Clarke, said she wasn't raising issues of competency "at this time."

The federal murder charges Loughner faces carry a potential death penalty, which require a painstaking process under Justice Department rules.

The judge set a March 9 hearing to consider motions in the case.

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Associated Press writers Michelle Price in Phoenix and Ramit Plushnick-Masti in Houston contributed to this report.

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