Feds Charge Jared Loughner With Murder of Federal Judge and Child Victim
The Government has obtained a 49 count superseding Indictment against Jared Loughner, accused of attempting to kill Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. He's now also charged with killing Chief Judge John Roll, whom the Indictment says was a federal employee engaged in the performance of his duties. He's also charged with causing the death of the young girl. The Superseding Indictment is available here.
At the end of the Indictment there's a special findings section, that reads like a list of aggravating factors for the death penalty.
I assume from this that the feds intend to seek the death penalty (although they haven't yet filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty) and that Loughner will not face prosecution in state court for the murders.
If Loughner is only going to be prosecuted in federal court, I think his lawyers are breathing a little easier today. [More...]
Many of the new charges are under a civil rights act provision:
The additional charges were made under a provision in federal civil rights law that is usually applied to hate crimes, but can be extended to crimes against any person "participating in or enjoying any benefit, service, privilege, program, facility, or activity provided or administered by the United States" - in this case, Giffords' "Congress on Your Corner," a meet-and-greet event with her Tucson constituents.
The federal law forbids anyone from injuring, intimidating or interfering with any such person, or even attempting to do so.
The Judge ordered both sides today to present a proposed hearing and trial schedule. He said he expects to set the trial to begin before September 20. (If there's a request for the death penalty, I expect the trial date to be continued.)
In other case news, the Judge refused an unopposed request by the Government to gag the Medical Examiner and bar the release of the autopsy reports, saying the Goverment could refile if it could make a showing that the Medical Examiner intended to make prejudicial public statements or release the autopsy reports.
And the defense is battling to stop the Bureau of Prisons from releasing medical and psychological reports on Loughner to the FBI. The defense points to a BOP regulation that prevents such sharing, and says Loughner intends to exercise all of his constitutional rights with respect to such information.
The next hearing is March 9, at which hearing and trial dates will be set.Update: Here is Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke's press release on the superseding indictment in which he discusses the death penalty and links to DOJ policy on it. His decision isn't the final one. It will then go to DOJ's capital case unit. Among their rules:
In any case in which (1) the United States Attorney recommends that the Attorney General authorize seeking the death penalty, or (2) a member of the Capital Review Committee requests a Committee conference, a Capital Case Unit attorney will confer with representatives of the United States Attorney's Office to establish a date and time for the Capital Review Committee to meet with defense counsel and representatives of the United States Attorney's Office to consider the case. No final decision to seek the death penalty shall be made if defense counsel has not been afforded an opportunity to present evidence and argument in mitigation. (my emphasis)The Capital case unit will then make a recommendation to the Attorney General, through the Deputy Attorney General.
If the Committee's recommendation differs from that of the United States Attorney, the United States Attorney shall be provided with a copy of the Committee's recommendation memorandum when it is transmitted to the Deputy Attorney General. The United States Attorney may respond to the Committee's analysis in a memorandum directed to the Deputy Attorney General. The Deputy Attorney General will then make a recommendation to the Attorney General. The Attorney General will make the final decision whether the Government should file a notice of intent to seek the death penalty.
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