Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Arizona shooting suspect appears in court

A troubled 22-year-old college loafer made his first court appearance on Monday on five federal charges, including the efforted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who remained in critical condition with a bullet wound to the head.

His hands handcuffed together, Jared Lee Loughner said in a strong voice he understood the charges against him connecting a shooting spree in Tucson on Saturday that left six people dead and 14 others injured.

The bloody rampage at an event Giffords hosted for constituents has fueled debate about whether heated rhetoric seen in latest political campaigns can lead to aggression.

President Barack Obama, who stressed unity after the shootings, plans to go to Arizona on Wednesday to attend a memorial service for the dead, who built-in a federal judge, a 9-year-old girl and one of Giffords' young aides.

Last year, Giffords had warned that angry campaign talk had prompted violent threats against her and damage at her office.

A police mug shot taken of Loughner after his arrest and free on Monday shows the accused killer, who faces a possible death sentence, smiling broadly.

At his court look, Loughner's lawyer waived a detention hearing. Federal Magistrate Judge Lawrence Anderson ordered Loughner held, calling him a danger to the community.
The judge listed a January 24 preliminary hearing.

Having survived a shot to the head at point-blank range, Giffords, a popular 40-year-old Democrat, remained in critical state at a Tucson hospital.

Doctors said there was no increased swelling of her brain and she sustained to respond to simple commands such as squeezing a finger and wiggling her toes.