Prosecutors Seek Gag Order for Autopsies of Tucson Shooting Victims

Federal prosecutors working on the trial of Jared Loughner, the lone suspect in the January 8, shooting rampage in Tucson, have requested a gag order that would bar the release of the autopsies of the six people killed during the attack.

The request was made to U.S. District Judge Larry Burns yesterday by prosecutors who say the families of five of the six victims object to the release of the autopsies.

Prosecutors, the Associated Press reports, are also trying to block Pima County's deputy chief medical examiner, Dr. Eric Peters, and his staff from talking to the media about the case.

So far, Loughner's been charged with two counts of attempted murder, and one count of attempted assassination for the January 8, shooting rampage outside of a Tucson Safeway grocery store that left six dead, including federal Judge John Roll, and 13 others wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Loughner will likely be indicted in federal court on several other charges stemming from the attack, including two federal murder counts for the deaths of Roll and Giffords aide Gabriel Zimmerman.

Then it's the state's turn. Loughner is facing a slew of other state charges that have not yet been filed. Federal statute requires the suspension of all state or local prosecutions while the federal case is pending, so state charges will be put on hold until the feds finish their case, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Pima County Attorney's Office announced earlier this month.

New federal charges are expected to be filed against Loughner before his next court hearing, which is scheduled for March 9, according to Burns.

Burns told attorneys that during the March 9, hearing he would also schedule future hearings and the set a date for trial. He also ordered that the trial begin no later than September.

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James King
Contact: James King