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Giffords condition unchanged; shooting suspect Loughner held without bail

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Jared Loughner, accused of trying to assassinate a Congresswoman and killing six others, appeared in court Monday. It was the nation's first look at the 22-year-old loner accused of trying to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.)

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Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, January 11, 2011; 9:03 AM

The doctor treating Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) said early Tuesday that tests show no new swelling in her brain, nearly three days after an assailant shot her at close range during an informal constituent event.

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"No change," Michael Lemole, chief of neurosurgery at University Medical Center in Tucson, told NBC's "Today" show after Giffords's daily CT scan. "And, as frustrating as that may sound, that's a good thing."

One hundred miles away in Phoenix, the young man accused of the rampage that killed six and injured 14 on Saturday was being held without bail after an appearance in federal court.

Shooting suspect Jared Loughner, 22, faces five federal counts, including two charges of murder. More than a dozen federal marshals stood by Monday afternoon as Magistrate Judge Lawrence O. Anderson listed the potential punishments Loughner faces if convicted, including life in prison and the death penalty.

Anderson asked the suspect if he understood. Loughner, his head shaved and his right temple showing a small gash, and leaned into the microphone and answered calmly: "Yes."

In Tucson, doctors said that the 40-year-old congresswoman had at one point attempted to pull out her breathing tube, an effort that Lemole said was a positive sign.

"That implies a purposeful level of consciousness," the surgeon told "Today" host Matt Lauer. "The fact that she is able to register that discomfort and react to it, that means her brain is functioning at a higher level."

At the same time, Lemole cautioned that Giffords remains at risk of infection or additional swelling to her brain, and said there is no way to know yet whether she will recover fully, partially or not at all.

In Washington, President Obama is preparing to attend a memorial event in Tuscon Wednesday evening. He must decide whether to weigh in on the debate over political climate and partisan rhetoric that has swirled since the shootings, or whether to remain above the fray.


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