(photo credit: Associated Press)
PHOENIX — The 22-year-old loner accused of trying to assassinate a US congresswoman and killing six others, appeared in court Monday, his head shaved, a cut on his right temple and in handcuffs. He stared vacantly at a packed courtroom and sat down to listen to whispered instructions from his attorney.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords lay about a 100 miles (160 kilometers) away in an intensive care unit, gravely wounded after being shot through the head but able to give a thumbs-up sign that doctors found as a reason to hope. Thirteen other people were injured in the bursts of gunfire outside an Arizona supermarket.
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The shootings, which claimed the lives six people, including of a federal judge, a congressional aid and a nine-year-old girl, have dominated news in the US, prompting outrage and sparking debate over gun control and whether heated political rhetoric fueled the incident.
Before the hearing began, Jared Loughner's court-appointed attorney Judy
Clarke whispered to the defendant, who only spoke to say "yes," when
the judge asked if he understood that he could face life in prison — or
the death penalty for the killings.
Clarke, had earlier defended "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski and Al-Qaida operative Zacarias Moussaoui among others.
The judge ordered Loughner held without bail.
A Mass for all the victims was scheduled Tuesday at St. Odelia's Parish in Tucson.
Among the dead was 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who was born on
the day of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Her funeral is
It was unclear when funerals will be held for the other victims, including one of Giffords' aides.
US President Barack Obama will travel to Arizona on Wednesday to attend a
memorial service for the victims, a senior administration official told
The Associated Press. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity
because the president's trip had not been publicly announced.
Giffords, 40, was shot in the head, at close range. She was in critical
condition at Tucson's University Medical Center. Two patients were
discharged Sunday night. Seven others, remained hospitalized.
Recent CT scans showed no further swelling in the brain, but doctors were guarded.
"We're not out of the woods yet," her neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Lemole
said. "That swelling can sometimes take three days or five days to
maximize. But every day that goes by and we don't see an increase, we're
slightly more optimistic."
Her doctors have declined to speculate on what specific disabilities Giffords may face.