Tucson Mass Shooting: Loughner guilty plea expected
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A guilty plea Tuesday may close the Tucson Mass Shooting case much sooner than expected.
All signs point to the gunman, Jared Lee Loughner taking a plea that will likely give him life in prison, but spare him from the death penalty.
There was no question Jared Lee Loughner killed six people, and wounded 13 others including then Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
The question was whether Loughner was so insane he was unfit for trial. In one hearing US Marshals restrained him when began yelling at the judge.
In later appearances medication kept him under control but there were still questions about his fitness for trial.
Now there's word he will plead guilty and get life without parole.
Criminal law attorney Mike Piccarreta says Loughner may be competent to understand the consequences of pleading guilty but still not competent for trial.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Piccarreta: "If he's achieved this ability to make this decision through the use of medication does that change his legal status at all?"
Piccarreta: "No. If medication assists you in being able to understand what you're doing and make some type of informed decision then you're capable of pleading guilty."
Piccarreta represents the family of Federal Judge John Roll, killed when he used his body to shield others. He says Judge Roll's family supports Loughner getting life without parole rather than death.
Piccarreta says there's really no chance Loughner will ever walk free. He'll be in Federal prison or prison hospitals the rest of his life. He could still face state charges but the County Attorney's office is not talking about whether it will choose to prosecute.
Survivors of the attack are waiting until after Loughner's plea to react.
After the Colorado theater massacre last month, retired Colonel Bill Badger, who was shot while disarming Loughner, said the shooting inspired him to push for better controls to keep guns from the mentally ill.
"Getting shot yourself you try to come up with, what can we do to prevent this from happening again. You feel it's your duty."