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New indictment: Loughner facing 14 possible death penalty counts

A federal grand jury has returned a 49-count indictment against Jared Lee Loughner in the deaths of 6 and wounding of 13 in the Jan. 8 mass shooting.

The charges include 14 for which the death penalty may be imposed.

The charges include the murders of U.S. District Judge John M. Roll and Gabriel Zimmerman, a staff member for U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Loughner will also face charges for causing the death of participants at a federally provided activity, namely the killings of Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan C. Stoddard, 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, said Robbie Sherwood, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The 28-page indictment, returned Thursday and released Friday, supersedes an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in January.

The new indictment includes counts from the previous one that allege Loughner attempted to assassinate Giffords, and attempted to murder her staffers Ron Barber and Pamela Simon, who were both shot multiple times.

Giffords, who was shot in the head, is undergoing rehabilitation at a Houston facility.

The indictment also alleges Loughner of creating a "grave risk of death" to the lives of bystanders who were not shot in the incident."This was an attack on Congresswoman Giffords, her constituents, and her staff," said U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke.

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"We will seek justice for the federal officials, Judge Roll and Gabriel M. Zimmerman, and for Dorothy J. Morris, Phyllis C. Schneck, Dorwan C. Stoddard, and (Christina-Taylor Green)." he said in a press release. "These final four Arizonans' lives were extinguished while exercising one of the most precious rights of American citizens, the right to meet freely and openly with their Member of Congress. The deceased are not the only ones whose rights are being defended. Those citizens who were peaceably assembled to speak to their Member of Congress are also named victims in this indictment. This indictment involves potential death-penalty charges, and Department rules require us to pursue a deliberate and thorough process. That process is ongoing, and we will continue to work diligently to see that justice is done."

Loughner, 22, will be arraigned on the new charges on March 9 at the federal courthouse in Tucson, Sherwood said. U.S. District Judge Larry Burns has said a trial should begin before Sept. 20.

The charges of murdering a federal employee (Roll and Zimmerman) carry a possible death sentence or life in prison, while the assassination charge could also result in a life term.

The charges of causing death through the use of a firearm (Roll, Green, Morris, Schneck and Stoddard) carry a possible death sentence or life in prison.

The charges of causing death to participants at a federally provided activity (also Roll, Green, Morris, Schneck and Stoddard) include a possible death sentence, as well.

Death penalty cases require "a careful and deliberate process," Burke said, including consultation with the victims and their families, consideration of all evidence relevant to guilt and punishment, including aggravating and mitigating evidence, and consultation with all the law enforcement agencies investigating the case.  

In order to pursue the death penalty the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Arizona must provide information to the Capital Review Committee, Sherwood said.

The federal prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Wallace H. Kleindienst, Beverly K. Anderson, Christina M. Cabanillas and Mary Sue Feldmeier of the District of Arizona, Tucson.

Loughner is likely to face numerous state charges once his federal trial is over, authorities have said.

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U.S. Marshals Service

Loughner

Summary of charges

charge - count(s) - maximum penalty

  • Attempted Assassination of a Member of Congress 18 U.S.C. § 351(c) - 1 - Life in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both       
  • Attempted Murder of a Federal Employee. 18 U.S.C. §§ 1114 and 1113 - 3, 11, 13 - 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.  
  • Use, Carry, Brandish and Discharge of a Firearm in Relation to a Crime of Violence. 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i), (ii) & (iii) - 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 45, 47, 49 - 10 years, in addition to the punishment provided for the crime of violence, a $250,000 fine, or both.   
  • Murder of a Federal Employee. 18 U.S.C. §§ 1114 & 1111 - 5,8 - Death or life imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both.  
  • Causing Death Through Use of a Firearm. 18 U.S.C. § 924 (j)(1) - 7, 10, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29 - Death or imprisonment for any term of years or for life, where the killing is first-degree murder, a $250,000 fine, or both.
  • Causing Death to Participants at a Federally Provided Activity. 18 U.S.C. § 245(b)(1)(B) - 15, 18, 21, 24, 27 - Death or imprisonment for any term of years or for life, a $250,000 fine, or both.
  • Injuring Participants at a Federally Provided Activity. 18 U.S.C. § 245(b)(1)(B) - 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48 - 10 years, a $250,000 fine, or both.

See the indictment for more on the numbered charges.