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Arizona rampage suspect appears in court

PHOENIX — Jared Lee Loughner, his head shaved bare and his hands and feet in restraints, walked into a federal court Monday, where he agreed not to contest his continued imprisonment but offered no hint on whether he will contest the murder and attempted murder charges linking him to the Tucson shooting rampage 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, who was convicted in the Unabomber attacks, and Zacarias Moussaoui, the al-Qaida 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 U.S. 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 Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who was struck in the head by a single bullet.

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 officers.

Giffords remained in critical condition Monday after surviving a single gunshot to the head fired at point-blank 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.

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 the attack Saturday.

At the start of the state Legislature's session Monday, Gov. 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, congresswoman 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."

In Washington on Monday, President Barack Obama stood somberly with his wife, their heads bowed, overlooking the South Lawn of the White House at 11 a.m. Eastern time, as a single 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.

"Obviously all of us are still grieving and in shock from the tragedy that took place," Obama said in the Oval Office where he was meeting on Monday with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France. "Gabby Giffords and others are still fighting to recover. Families are still absorbing the enormity of their losses. We have a criminal investigation that is ongoing and charges that no doubt will be brought against the perpetrator of this heinous crime."

Obama noted that there had been acts of heroism on Saturday.

"I think it's important for us to also focus, though, on the extraordinary courage that was shown during the course of these events: a 20-year-old college student who ran into the line of fire to rescue his boss; a wounded woman who helped secure the ammunition that might have caused even more damage; the citizens who wrestled down the gunman," he said. "Part of what I think that speaks to is the best of America, even in the face of such mindless violence."

Witness Patricia Maisch told reporters Monday that she took a magazine clip with 30 rounds in it from Loughner as he was pinned to the ground by two men whom she described as "heroes."

"Those two men where my heroes, because I believe they saved my life. I believe I was next to be shot," Maisch said.

Capitol security agencies are planning to join the FBI on Wednesday in a security briefing for members of Congress.

Investigators in Tucson focused their attention on Loughner, whom they accused of methodically planning the shootings, which occurred outside a supermarket.

Special Agent Tony M. Taylor Jr. of the FBI said in an affidavit that an envelope found in a safe in Loughner's home bore these handwritten words: "I planned ahead," "My assassination" and "Giffords."

The court documents said Loughner bought the Glock semiautomatic pistol used in the shooting at Sportsman's Warehouse, which sells hunting and fishing gear, on Nov. 30 in Tucson.

The gun was legally purchased, officials said.

In addition to Roll, 63, the others killed were 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green; Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, 30; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Schneck, 79.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Arizona rampage suspect appears in court 01/11/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 7:54am]
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