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Plea deal possible in Loughner case

Aug. 6, 2012 at 5:36 PM

TUCSON, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- A plea deal is being considered for Jared Loughner, accused of 49 felonies in the mass shooting in Tucson last year, legal sources said.

Loughner, a diagnosed schizophrenic considered competent to stand trial for the incident on Jan. 11, 2011 in which six people were shot to death and 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, were injured, could plead guilty and be sentenced to life in prison, The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic reported Monday.

Although the evidence seems overwhelming, and a jury could convict Loughner and sentence him to death, the issue centers around the gauging of the risks of going to trial, a legal expert not connected to the case said.

"It's all risk assessment, both on the part of Mr. Loughner's lawyers and the government," said former U.S. Attorney for Arizona Paul Charlton.

The risk of what a jury might conclude, whether Loughner could maintain a grasp on reality during a long and stressful trial and the further trauma of victims and family members who would be called on to testify, are examples of why federal prosecutors are considering offering Loughner a plea deal, the newspaper said.

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