Jared Loughner Possibly Pleading Guilty in Tucson Massacre, Likely Wouldn't Be Executed

Jared Loughner -- the lone suspect in last year's shooting that killed six people and injured 13, including then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords -- is planning on entering a guilty plea this week, according to some anonymous people.

The Los Angeles Times said this weekend that Loughner's set to plead guilty tomorrow, and mental-health pros says he's competent to understand the charges, according to its "knowledgeable sources."

The Associated Press, citing "a person familiar with the case," says the plea deal would send Loughner to prison for life.

The U.S. District Court's schedule in the case still shows that a status conference is set for tomorrow, but the L.A. Times says he's changing his plea.

Loughner faces 49 federal charges related to the January 8, 2011, shooting, but the Times doesn't have the details of what that plea includes.

The AP doesn't offer up any extra details on the rumored life-in-prison plea.

The issue over Loughner's competency had been in the courts for a while, as doctors were trying to "restore his competency" to stand trial.

Some of that was done through forced medication, although not everyone agreed with that move.

In March, an appeals court let the forced medication to go forward, although one of the three judges on that panel thought it could have compromised Loughner's right to a fair trial.

"Assuming Loughner will put on an insanity defense, manifestations in court of how his mind works may well be his own best evidence," appeals court Judge Marsha Berzon wrote. "Because psychotropic medication chemically alters the brain, it 'deprives the jury of the opportunity to observe the defendant in the delusional state he was in at the time of the crime.'"

There may have been "no point" to restore his competency if the medicating was unconstitutional, she said.

That issue hasn't been raised in Loughner's rumored change of plea.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley