Loughner to enter new plea, may plead guilty in AZ shootings - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Loughner to enter new plea, may plead guilty in AZ shootings

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(Source: Pima County Sheriff) (Source: Pima County Sheriff)

TUCSON, AZ (RNN) - Documents released Monday show the man charged with shooting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ, and 18 others will change a previously entered "not guilty" plea if a judge rules that he is mentally competent to do so.

Judge Larry Allen Burns scheduled a Tuesday competency hearing for the accused gunman, Jared Lee Loughner.

According to a scheduling order, "if the Court finds the defendant competent, his counsel has requested a follow-on change of plea hearing … Assuming the Court finds the defendant competent, it will also consider whether to accept the defendant's proffered pleas."

If he's found competent, Loughner is expected to plead guilty to at least one count against him.

Loughner pleaded "not guilty" to 49 counts, including attempted assassination of a member of Congress, in 2011.

He has been receiving treatment at a mental facility in Missouri. Psychologists hoped to rehabilitate him to the point of being able to stand trial.

A plea deal might help Loughner skirt the death penalty.

Loughner is accused of shooting up a meet-and-greet with Giffords in January 2011. The attack killed six and injured 13, including Giffords.  

Shot in the head at close range, Giffords was believed to be the intended target.

After a year of what doctors billed as remarkable progress, she stepped down from Congress in January to concentrate on her health.

Giffords' aide, Ron Barber, won a special election to finish out her term. He is currently campaigning for a full term.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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