The U.S. Attorney's Office announced this morning that a 49-count federal indictment has been returned charging Jared Loughner, the lone suspect in the January 8, Tucson shooting rampage, with various crimes, including murder.
In a twist, the new indictment names all victims of the shooting, not just federal employees.
Before today, Loughner, 22, only had been formally charged with the attempted murders of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and two of her aides. Today, the feds unveiled the laundry list of other charges filed against Loughner.
Of the 49 counts, two of them are for the murders of Federal Judge John Roll, and Giffords aide Gabriel Zimmerman, which was expected. Four of the other counts are for causing the death of participants at a federally provided activity.
"These final four Arizonans' lives were extinguished while exercising one of the most precious rights of American citizens, the right to meet freely and openly with their Member of Congress," U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke says.
In those four counts, the indictment names the victims as being Dorothy J. Morris, Phyllis C. Schneck, Dorwan C. Stoddard, and a child, referred to in the indictment as C-T G. (9-year-old Christina Taylor Green), who were shot while waiting to see Rep. Giffords at the Congress on Your Corner event on that fateful day in Tucson.
The charges against Loughner for the murders of non-federal employees are permitted under a provision in federal civil rights law that usually is applied to hate crimes, but can also apply anyone "participating in or enjoying any benefit, service, privilege, program, facility, or activity provided or administered by the United States."
"This was an attack on Congresswoman Giffords, her constituents, and her staff," Burke continues. "This indictment involves potential death-penalty charges, and Department rules require us to pursue a deliberate and thorough process. That process is ongoing, and we will continue to work diligently to see that justice is done."
The indictment also includes the earlier attempted murder charges against Loughner.
Federal statute requires the suspension of all state or local prosecutions while the federal case is pending, so state charges are expected, but will be put on hold until the feds finish their case.
"As stated previously, the Pima County Attorney's Office intends to pursue all state charges against Loughner," the feds says.
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Subsequently, Loughner will remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service as his case moves through the federal court system.
After that, the state will have its crack at him.
Loughner is scheduled to be arraigned on the new charges on Wednesday in Tucson in front of U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns.
As Burke notes, if convicted, Loughner faces the possibility of the death penalty.