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Federal Murder Charges Against Loughner Dropped-for now

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Federal murder charges against Loughner dropped – for now.

The judge in the federal case against suspected Tucson shooter Jared Loughner granted the prosecutor’s motion to temporarily drop two murder charges against Loughner for procedural reasons.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is working on obtaining indictments against Loughner for the Jan. 8 murders of U.S. District Court Judge John Roll and Gabe Zimmerman, an aide to U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was the apparent target and was injured in the attack. Loughner will face state counts later on the rest of the charges stemming from the shooting spree that left six people dead and 13 wounded. He has already been indicted on three counts: The attempted assassination of Giffords and the attempted murders of two of her aides.

An indictment is a jury’s determination that there is probable cause that a crime occurred, and it allows the case to advance in court.


But under federal law, suspects in custody must be indicted within 30 days of their arrest, and that time has already passed for the two murder counts. Rather than rush the indictment, prosecutors chose to drop the charges, for now. And Loughner remains in custody on the assassination and attempted murder charges.

U.S. District Court Judge Larry A. Burns granted the government’s motion to dismiss the counts without prejudice, meaning they can be brought again.

An indictment is expected some time before Loughner’s March 9 court hearing in Tucson.


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