Jared Lee Loughner, the man accused of attempting to assassinate Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and fatally shooting six others Saturday in Tucson, made his first appearance in federal court Monday and was ordered held without bond.
Magistrate Judge Lawrence Anderson ruled that Mr. Loughner, who appeared before him in a Phoenix courtroom in a tan prison jumpsuit with his hands cuffed and head shaved, represents a “danger to the community.” He found that no “condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the safety of others and the community,” according to federal court documents.
Anderson made the ruling after Loughner’s appointed lawyer agreed not to contest his pre-trial detention. Given the nature of the charges against him, there was virtually no chance that Loughner would be released on bail.
He is to remain in the custody of the US Marshal’s Service pending his trial. The detention order says that to the extent practicable, Loughner should be held in a corrections facility separate from convicted prisoners.
The judge scheduled a preliminary hearing in the case for Jan. 14.
Loughner, a 22-year-old community college dropout, was asked a series of questions during the 15-minute hearing. He acknowledged that he was, in fact, Jared Loughner and he answered “Yes,” when asked by Judge Anderson if he was aware that he could face life in prison or the death penalty for his alleged crimes.
Loughner has been charged in a criminal complaint with five counts of murder or attempted murder. In addition to the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Giffords, he is charged with first-degree murder for the killing of Chief US District Judge John Roll and a congressional staff member, Gabriel Zimmerman. He is also charged with two counts of attempted murder for shooting Pamela Simon and Ron Barber, both congressional aides.
Loughner potentially faces the death penalty for each of the two murder charges. He faces up to life in prison on the attempted assassination charge, and up to 20 years in prison on each of the two attempted murder charges.
Prosecutors have 30 days to present evidence to a federal grand jury, which must decide whether to return an indictment. If an indictment is returned, Loughner would be brought back to court to enter a plea – guilty or not guilty.
Because of his limited financial assets, lawyers are being appointing to represent Loughner, including Judy Clarke, a defense attorney from San Diego who has specialized in defending high-profile indigent defendants.
Ms. Clarke’s past clients have included Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, 1996 Olympic park bomber Eric Rudolph, and Susan Smith, the South Carolina mother convicted of drowning her two sons by allowing her car to roll into a lake with the two toddlers strapped in their car seats.
One potential issue in the case is whether defense lawyers will ask that all federal judges and magistrate judges in Arizona recuse themselves from the case. One of the victims, Judge Roll, was a colleague and friend to his fellow judges.
Judge Anderson advised Loughner’s lawyers that if they intend to seek the recusal of every judge they must promptly file that motion with Chief Judge Roslyn Silver.
In addition to the action in federal court, state prosecutors are expected at some point to file murder and attempted murder charges in Arizona state court. Even if he is convicted in a federal trial, Loughner is likely to also face a capital murder trial in state court.