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The Nation

February 18, 2011

Judge in Loughner case to mull release of records

SAN DIEGO — A judge overseeing the criminal case against the suspect in the Tucscon, Ariz., shooting rampage will consider whether to release a new mug shot of the suspect and unseal records of a police search of his house.

Federal prosecutors and lawyers for 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner oppose requests by news organizations to hand over the photo and make an immediate release of search warrant records. Loughner will not attend Friday's hearing.

The company that publishes The Arizona Republic and the Phoenix TV station KPNX are seeking records that show which items investigators took in a search of Loughner's house after the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson.

The attack outside a grocery store killed six people, including a 9-year-old girl, and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others. Loughner pleaded not guilty to federal charges of trying to assassinate Giffords and kill two of her aides.

The indictment specifying those charges superseded an earlier federal complaint that also charged him with murder for the deaths of U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman.

Another indictment is expected to restore those murder charges. Loughner also will likely face state charges in the attack.

U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns of San Diego was appointed to hear the case after all the federal judges in Arizona recused themselves because of their connection to Roll, who was the chief federal judge in Arizona.

David Bodney, an attorney representing The Arizona Republic and KPNX-TV, argued in court papers that there's no basis for the records to continue to be sealed, that the public has a right to the records that have been under seal since Jan. 11, and that prosecutors haven't shown how making the document public would harm their case.

Judy Clarke, one of Loughner's attorneys, said in court records that her client's right to a fair trial might be harmed by the release of search warrant records.

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