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LaWall considers state charges in Tucson shooting spree case

  • Updated

Mass shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner could be tried twice on charges alleging he shot U.S. District Court Judge John M. Roll, U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her staff members.

Loughner is already facing federal charges in regards to the federal employees, but Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall is considering charging Loughner with shooting the civil servants in state court, as well.

LaWall said Sunday her staff is researching their ability to file the charges, but state prosecutors have successfully prosecuted bank robbers and drug suspects who were also charged in federal court, LaWall said.

Federal and state murder statutes are dissimilar and "you never know what's going to happen in a jury trial," LaWall said.

"What we want to do is protect the case and provide justice for the victims and do it in the best possible way," LaWall said.

Loughner will clearly face state charges in regards to those victims who were not named in the federal complaint, LaWall said. The federal government has no jurisdiction over them.

While state prosecutors normally have only 10 days to file charges against suspects who are in custody, LaWall said her office has more time to research what charges should be filed because Loughner is in federal custody.

The county's top prosecutor said she would like to let victims, witnesses and family members know what to expect in the coming months, possibly during a joint meeting with federal prosecutors. She'd like to schedule such a meeting within 30 days of Loughner's indictment on state charges.

On Saturday, Giffords was holding her 20th "Congress on Your Corner" event since taking office when Loughner, 22, allegedly opened fire with a Glock 9 mm semiautomatic weapon, killing six people and injuring 14.

Four people stopped Loughner and restrained him for Pima County sheriff's deputies.

Heather Williams, first assistant federal public defender, said Sunday arrangements were being made to secure an attorney for Loughner who doesn't work within the federal system in Arizona.

"While we thought we could effectively defend Mr. Loughner we wanted to focus on his best interests," Williams said.

By having an attorney with no ties to the federal system in Arizona represent Loughner, there can be no question about a conflict of interest, Williams said.

Judy Clarke, a San Diego, Calif. attorney with experience in death penalty cases, arrived in Tucson Sunday in anticipation of being representing Loughner, Williams said.

Clarke declined to comment.

According to various media sources, Clarke has represented Zacarias Moussaoui, who played a role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, "Unabomber" Theodore Kaczynski, Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph, Oklahoma City Bomber Tim McVeigh, and Susan Smith, who drowned her toddlers in 1994.

Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or


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