Guilty Plea

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - 9:54am

Accused gunman pleads not guilty in the attempted assassination of Arizona congresswoman.

There have been several developments in the case of the man accused of killing six people and wounding 13 more in an attack in Tucson. Jared Loughner entered his first plea during a pre-trial hearing yesterday. While the target of the attack, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords faces a changing situation in her houston hospital.

His hair beginning to grow out, and wearing a pair of wire-rimmed glasses now, court sketches provide a very different picture than the ghoulish mug-shot of accused mass murderer Jared Loughner, taken just after the attacks.

Shackled, and wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, Loughner did flash that awkward grin at times. But did not say a word in the 10-minute hearing Monday in Phoenix. His attorney, Judy Clark entering a "not guilty" plea and telling judge Larry Burns she would not contest a prosecution request to move the trial back to Tucson.

To this point, Loughner has been charged with attempted murder and attempted assassination of a member of congress. Burns asked that any additional charges be filed by the next hearing set for March 9th, including murder which would likely mean prosecutors would seek the death penalty.

Kurt Altman, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, says "the decision to seek the death penalty ultimately comes from Washington, actually it ultimately comes from the Attorney General himself, Eric Holder."

State charges should come soon as well, on behalf of the four killed and 11 injured in the attack who were not federal employees.

The target of the attack, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is moving forward with therapy, despite doctors orders to stay in intensive care a bit longer than expected because of lingering fluid on her brain.

Dr. Geoffrey Manley, of the Department of Neurological Surgery at UCSF says "just because she's in the intensive care unit doesn't mean that she's not going to be able to receive uh rehabilitation.”

She could be transferred to the rehab center in her Houston hospital by the end of this week while the man accused in her attack will likely be transferred to a federal facility closer to Tucson.

Giffords husband astronaut Mark Kelly declined an invitation from the White House to attend tonight's State of the Union address so he could stay by his wife's side. But key figures from the tragedy in Tucson will be there including intern Daniel Hernandez, credited with saving Giffords life, the parents of the youngest victim, 9-year-old Christina Taylor-Green, who was killed in the massacre, and Dr. Peter Rhee, one of Representative Giffords doctors.

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