TUCSON, Ariz. -- The federal judge overseeing the mass shooting case in Tucson that injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has confirmed that the accused gunman requested a change to his earlier not guilty plea.
Up to now, Jared Lee Loughner’s lawyers have argued he is not mentally competent to stand trial. Loughner faces 49 felony counts. He is accused of killing six people and injuring 13 more.
Rick Lougee is a defense attorney in Tucson who specializes in murder cases and capital punishment trials. He believes Loughner’s lawyers are trying to keep him from the death penalty.
"My guess is the sentence has been pretty much pre-arranged between the parties and if it’s as long as I think it’s gonna be, it will be multiple life sentences," he said.
He wasn’t surprised by the sudden change. Loughner’s lawyer Judy Clarke often fights capital punishment.
“And she’s taken people who are eminently suitable for the death penalty and obtained life sentences for them and that’s what she’s doing in this case," he said.
U.S. District Court judge Larry Burns will first have to decide for himself if Loughner is competent to stand trial.