Giffords moving from Tucson to Houston Friday for rehab

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By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Just 13 days after she was shot in the brain at point-blank range, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will leave Tucson and travel by medical jet to Houston to begin her rehabilitation.

At a Thursday news conference at University Medical Center in Tucson, her husband, Captain Mark Kelly, confirmed the transfer will take place on Friday.

He said they had researched a number of rehab facilities around the nation, and selected the Texas Institute of Rehabilitation and Research as the best for her care.  It will also allow Kelly, a NASA astronaut who lives in Houston, to be close to his wife.

At the briefing, UMC Dr. Michael Lemole says the Congresswoman continues to make positive progress.  He confirmed reports from Wednesday that she is now standing on her own, bearing her own weight, with just a little assistance.

Dr. Peter Rhee, the UMC trauma surgeon, said they continue to be "pleased with her progress."

Kelly thanked the entire Tucson community for their love and support since the shooting. "At times, it seemed a bit overwhelming," he said.  He personally thanked the doctors, nurses and staff at UMC for their support.  He also singled out Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup and UA President Robert Shelton.

Kelly revealed that "volunteer" police officers have stood guard in the ICU constantly since the shooting.

Kelly specifically mentioned the memorials which have grown at UMC, the shooting scene, and at Giffords' district office, as a visual reminder of the love of Tucsonans.

He said, "The past 12 days have been extraordinarily difficult.  We may never understand the why, how, the reason for what happened on January 8.  Emotionally, this has been a challenge for all of us."

The suspect in the shooting, Jared Lee Loughner, was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury on Wednesday on three counts of attempted murder.  They charge him with the attempted assassination of Representative Giffords, and her aids Ron Barber and Pam Simon.  U.S. Attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke, called the indictments, "just the beginning of our legal action".  Future murder indictments against Loughner are expected in the deaths of U.S. Federal District Judge Jon Roll and Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman.

Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall has not issued any statements or spoken to local news media, but in multiple appearances on a national news cable channel, said her office is working to bring state charges in the murders and attempted murders of the 14 other victims.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department on Wednesday abruptly ended all public comment on the shooting investigation after what it called a "controversy" with the county attorney's office.  It refused to elaborate.  A prominent local defense attorney told Fox 11 News it was likely the county attorney was upset over the sheriff department releasing so many specific details of their investigation.

PCSO Bureau Chief Rick Kastigar gave interviews to the Associated Press and CBS News about very specific details of what surveillance video recorded at the Safeway at the time of the shooting showed.  Kastigar detailed that suspect Loughner walked calmly up to Giffords and at a range of "24 to 36 inches" fired into her forehead.  He then provided a blow-by-blow detail of who was shot next in order and other activities at the scene.

Loughner is scheduled to be back in federal court in Phoenix next week as his legal process proceeds.