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Loughner to face federal trial prior to state charges

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Loughner to face federal trial prior to state charges

Alleged mass shooter Jared Lee Loughner will face trial on federal charges before any state charges are filed, authorities said Friday.

Loughner, 22, the accused gunman in the Jan. 8 shootings that killed 6 and wounded 13 others, was indicted on federal attempted murder charges for the wounding of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and two of her aides, Ron Barber and Pam Simon.

He was also charged in the deaths of U.S. District Court Judge John M. Roll and congressional aide Gabriel Zimmerman. Indictments on those counts are likely, officials have said.

State charges in the deaths of four others, and the wounding of the other victims, will be delayed until after Loughner's federal trial, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke and Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall announced Friday.

Because Loughner is charged with the attempted assassination of a member of Congress, federal law requires that state charges be delayed:

Title 18, Section 351(f): If Federal investigative or prosecutive jurisdiction is asserted for a violation of this section, such assertion shall suspend the exercise of jurisdiction by a State or local authority, under any applicable State or local law, until Federal action is terminated.

Burke and LaWall said their offices have been working together to investigate the mass shooting.

"Accordingly, our offices have jointly agreed to a process that Loughner will first be prosecuted on federal charges by the United States Attorney's Office. As required by the statute, once those charges have been fully prosecuted through the Federal court system, Arizona state charges will be prosecuted by the Pima County Attorney's Office. These cases will be tried in sequence and will ensure that all rights of the victims and their families are vindicated," the two said in a news release.

LaWall has said that she intends to seek an indictment against Loughner for the murder of those who died who were not federal employees: Christina-Taylor Green, 9; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwan Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Schneck, 79.

Handwriting sample ordered

Loughner will be taken to Tucson to provide a handwriting sample, U.S. District Court Judge Larry A. Burns ruled Thursday.

Loughner must provide the FBI with handwriting samples with seven days, he ruled.

Prosecutors told the judge they intend to "introduce documents found in the defendant's residence which contain handwritten references to the Member of Congress the defendant is accused of attempting to assassinate, as well as references to a gun and bullets. Additional notebooks containing handwriting were also found in the defendant's residence."

Authorities searched Loughner's home the afternoon of the shootings. An envelope with writing on the outside was found stored in a safe.

"I planned ahead," "My assassination" and the name Giffords were written on the envelope, along with what appears to be Loughner's signature, FBI Special Agent Tony Taylor said in a court document.

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