Suspect pleads not guilty in Arizona rampage

January 25, 2011 02:30
1 minute read.

PHOENIX — The suspect in the shooting of Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords pleaded not guilty in court Monday, the 22-year-old's first response to the charges.

Two weeks after the deadly attack outside an Arizona grocery store, Jared Loughner's grinning mug shot has become an enduring image of the tragedy. Loughner didn't speak but grinned in court and wore an orange prison jumpsuit and glasses, and his wrists were cuffed to a chain around his waist as eight US Marshalls kept watch in the packed Phoenix courtroom and gallery above.

Loughner faces federal charges of trying to assassinate Giffords and kill two of her aides. More charges are expected.

Investigators have said Loughner was mentally disturbed and acting increasingly erratic in the weeks leading up to the attack on Jan. 8 that wounded 13 and killed six. If Loughner's attorney uses mental competency questions as a defense and is successful, Loughner could be sent to a mental health facility instead of being sentenced to prison or death.

But his attorney, Judy Clarke, said she wasn't raising issues of competency "at this time" after U.S. District Judge Larry Burns of San Diego asked whether there was any question about her client's ability to understand the case against him.

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