Tucson accused ruled fit to stand trial for Giffords shooting

Wed, Aug 8, 2012, 01:00

A college dropout accused of killing six people and wounding 13 others in January 2011, including then-US representative Gabrielle Giffords, in a shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona, has been found mentally fit to stand trial ahead of an expected guilty plea.

Jared Loughner (23) was ruled mentally competent by Judge Larry Burns during a hearing in federal court in Tucson, following testimony by a prison psychologist.

Sources said that Loughner, who is charged with 49 criminal counts, including first-degree murder, was prepared to change his plea to guilty at the hearing. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf last year.

A plea agreement could spare him from facing the death penalty.

Ms Giffords, an Arizona Democrat who was seen as a rising star in the party, was meeting constituents at a Tucson supermarket when she was shot through the head at close range.

The six people killed include a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl.

Ms Giffords resigned from congress in January to focus on her recovery. – (Reuters)