Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Jared Lee Loughner pleaded not guilty to charges he attempted to kill U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and two of her aides during a Jan. 8 shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona.
Loughner, 22, entered his plea today in federal court in Phoenix after he walked into the courtroom smiling.
Federal prosecutors said Jan. 19 that the attempted murder charges returned by a grand jury in an indictment were “just the beginning.” Six people were killed when Loughner allegedly opened fire at a community meeting organized by Giffords outside a Tucson supermarket. Thirteen people, including Giffords, who was shot through the head, were wounded in the rampage before bystanders tackled the suspect.
U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns is the San Diego-based judge assigned to the case after federal judges in Arizona recused themselves. He scheduled a status conference for March 9 and didn’t set a trial date.
Loughner was first charged in a Jan. 9 federal criminal complaint with attempted assassination of a member of Congress, and with killing U.S. District Judge John Roll, who had come to Giffords’s meeting, and Gabriel Zimmerman, one of Giffords’s aides, as well as attempting to kill Ron Barber and Pamela Simon, also aides of Giffords.
The grand jury indictment for the attempted murder charges waived the need for a preliminary hearing before a judge to determine if there is probable cause for Loughner to stand trial. He faces as long as life in prison if convicted for attempting to kill a member of Congress.