4:48pm

Mon January 24, 2011
The Two-Way

Loughner Pleads 'Not Guilty'

Jared Lee Loughner has pleaded "not guilty" in a Phoenix courthouse Monday to federal charges that he attempted to kill Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and two of her aides on Jan. 8 in Tucson.

Loughner is alleged to have shot 19 people, killing six, during a Giffords' meet-and-greet at a grocery store.

The 22-year-old is expected to face state charges over the shooting when the federal case is resolved.

The AP reports that the question of Lougner's mental state did come up at the hearing:

"Investigators have said Loughner was mentally disturbed and acting increasingly erratic in the weeks leading up to the shooting. If his attorney uses mental competency questions as a defense and is successful, Loughner could be sent to a mental health facility instead of being sentenced to prison or death."

"U.S. District Judge Larry Burns of San Diego asked Loughner attorney Judy Clarke whether there was any question about her client's ability to understand the case against him."

"'We are not raising any issues at this time,' Clarke said."

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for March 9. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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