Loughner pleads not guiltyPosted: Updated:
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Wearing a smirk that has become his trademark, mass shooting suspect Jared Loughner stood before a federal judge Wednesday in Tucson and declared he is not guilty of the 49-counts he faces in connection with the January 8 shootings.
Next, the judge needs to decide whether Loughner is competent to stand trial.
Courtroom sketches detail the grin Jared Loughner flashed through much of his arraignment.
When asked by the judge to confirm his true name is Jared Lee Loughner, the defendant spoke the only words to come out of his mouth during the hearing, "Yes it is!"
In the courtroom were some of the shooting victims, including bill badger, the man who tackled the gunman and prevented more deaths, and Suzi Hileman, the woman who took little Christina-Taylor Green to Safeway to meet her congresswoman.
The victims didn't want to talk after the hearing. Some of them appeared anxious in the courtroom, seeing Loughner for the first time since January 8. But a lawyer representing the family of the late Judge John Roll offered a statement.
"I think it's important that any of the victims or members of public that want to see this, watch justice be done," said attorney Mike Piccarreta.
After Loughner's attorney entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf, the judge made two rulings at the hearing.
He granted the release of search warrants, which should provide an idea what investigators took from Loughner's home.
And he set a date for a hearing, to decide whether Loughner is competent to stand trial, meaning he understands the charges and the proceedings going on around him.
As the prosecution gave its argument, citing the strange on-line postings and videos posted by Loughner, the defendant smiled and raised his eyebrows.
The judge wanted to rule whether to allow the prosecution handwriting samples, but the defense asked for him to wait since Loughner's competency is now under question.
The competency hearing is set for 9:30 in the morning May 25 in Tucson, but a psychologist needs to examine Loughner, and they might move him to San Diego to do so. That will be decided in the coming weeks.
And with the judge's order, the search warrants were unsealed detailing what investigators found in Loughner's home. Much of the information has already been reported.
But the warrants reveal Loughner's parents cooperated with investigators when they arrived at the home, telling them Loughner kept journals and on his computer the controversial video that got him kicked out of Pima Community College.
In a safe he kept together a letter from Congresswoman Giffords, a gun lock. And handwritten notes that read "I planned ahead! My assassination love - Jared-Giffords."