Loughner Change Of Plea Hearing Set

(CBS/AP) PHOENIX - The judge overseeing the deadly Tucson, Ariz., mass shooting case on Monday scheduled competency and change of plea hearings for defendant Jared Lee Loughner.

U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns scheduling order confirms that a plea deal has been reached in the shooting that left six dead and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others wounded.
Court documents show that the hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 11 a.m. MST in Tucson.

Before Loughner can enter the plea, Burns must find that Loughner is mentally competent and understands what is happening.

If the judge determines that Loughner is mentally competent and voluntarily entered the deal, CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen reports that federal prosecutors probably won't be pushing for the death penalty in exchange for Loughner's guilty plea. Rather, prosecutors will argue that he "should spend the rest of his life in a federal prison, perhaps one of the special mental health facilities that are part of the Bureau of Prisons."

Even so, Loughner could still face the death penalty if state prosecutors in Arizona try the suspect on capital murder charges.

Loughner has spent more than a year in a federal medical facility in Missouri being treated for mental illness.

Loughner had pleaded not guilty to 49 federal charges stemming from the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting outside a Tucson supermarket where Giffords was holding a meet-and-greet with constituents.

Burns had ruled that Loughner wasn't psychologically fit to stand trial, but that he could be made ready for trial after treatment. Experts have concluded that Loughner suffers from schizophrenia.


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