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Tucson shooter pleads guilty to killing federal judge, wounding congresswoman

The man charged with killing six people and wounding 13 others in the January 2011 Tucson shooting [USA Today backgrounder] pleaded guilty [DOJ press release] on Tuesday in the US District Court for the Southern District of California [official website] shortly after Judge Larry Alan Burns declared him mentally competent to stand trial. The defendant, Jared Lee Loughner, admitted guilt [LAT report] to 19 of 49 charges [text], including killing a 9-year-old girl and Chief Judge John Roll of the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] as well as wounding former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords [Guardian backgrounder]. In ending an ongoing debate between prosecutors and defense counsel, Burns found that Loughner understood in court that he was responsible for opening fire during Giffords's local constituent meeting in an Arizona parking lot. Both sides then arranged Loughner's ensuing plea, which assuredly sidesteps the death penalty. Loughner will be sentenced on November 15.

Loughner was formally charged [JURIST report] with the Tucson shootings in January 2011. Significant charges included one count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress, two counts of killing an employee of the federal government and two counts of attempting to kill federal employees. Loughner originally invoked his right to remain silent [ABC News report] before the debate regarding his competence stalled legal proceedings for more than a year. Given the circumstances, President Barack Obama [official website] directed that the investigation into the shooting [press releases] be conducted by the FBI.

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