The rumored change-of-plea for Jared Loughner -- the lone suspect in last year's shooting that killed six people and injured 13, including then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords -- is officially scheduled for tomorrow.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns signed the order today, indicating Loughner wants to change his plea from not guilty as part of a plea agreement.
"If the Court finds the defendant competent, his counsel has requested a follow-on change of plea hearing," the order says. "Accordingly, assuming the Court finds the defendant competent, it will also consider whether to accept the defendant's proffered pleas at the August 7 hearing."
That hearing is taking place at 11 a.m. tomorrow in Tucson.
Loughner faces 49 federal charges related to the January 8, 2011, shooting, and was previously found incompetent to stand trial.
However, Loughner was ordered to be treated at a psychiatric facility and be forcibly treated with medication in an effort to "restore his competency" to stand trial.
If he's found competent tomorrow -- as the judge will have to be convinced Loughner understands the charges -- then he'll be able to change his plea.
Instead of the sentencing extremes that could have resulted from a trial -- a jury buying Loughner's insanity, or the prosecution's likely intention of a death sentence -- the going thought is that Loughner's plea will land him in prison for the rest of his life.
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