Loughner appears in court; Obama plans trip to Arizona on Wednesday

Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot in the head Saturday morning while hosting an event outside a grocery store. Six people died, and 14 were injured.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, January 11, 2011; 1:08 AM

PHOENIX - Jared Lee Loughner, appearing in court for the first time since he allegedly killed six people and wounded 14, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in a shooting spree in Tucson on Saturday, calmly answered questions from a judge Monday and heard the charges against him before being led off in custody without bail.

Loughner, 22, entered the packed courtroom for his arraignment wearing tan inmate clothing and handcuffs amid heavy security. More than a dozen federal marshals were on hand.

Loughner, who made his initial court appearance with a shaved head and a cut on his right temple, seemed nervous initially but answered the judge's questions clearly during the 17-minute hearing.

Magistrate Judge Lawrence O. Anderson listed potential sentences in the case, including the death sentence for the murders of two federal employees, and asked Loughner if he understood. Loughner leaned into a microphone and answered, "Yes."

Anderson said all federal judges in the Tucson district have recused themselves, apparently on grounds that one of the dead was a federal judge. Officials said a federal judge from outside Arizona would be brought in to handle the case, including a preliminary hearing set for Jan. 24.

President Obama will visit Tucson on Wednesday to attend a memorial service for those killed, a senior administration official said Monday. Details are still being worked out, but it is likely he will deliver public remarks, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because no one has been authorized to announce the trip.

Obama led Americans in observing a moment of silence for victims of the Tucson shooting.

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama stood silently on the South Lawn of the White House at 11 a.m. Eastern time with more than 200 White House staffers. A chime rang three times, and those assembled bowed their heads for one minute.

A similar vigil was held at the Capitol, where lawmakers from both parties gathered to mourn those killed and express their wishes for Giffords's recovery.

On the international space station, Giffords's brother-in-law, astronaut Scott Kelly, led NASA in a moment of silence as part of the national observance for the victims of the shooting. Kelly's identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, also an astronaut, is married to Giffords.

"As I look out the window, I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful," Scott Kelly said by radio from the space station. "Unfortunately, it is not."

He added: "These days, we are constantly reminded of the unspeakable acts of violence and damage we can inflict upon one another, not just with our actions, but also with our irresponsible words. ... We're better than this. We must do better."

CONTINUED     1              >

© 2011 The Washington Post Company