PHOENIX (CN) – Jared Loughner pleaded not guilty Monday to the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the attempted murder of two federal employees. Clad in an orange prison jumpsuit, Loughner grinned as U.S. marshals led him into the special proceedings courtroom, but did not speak during the 10-minute hearing. U.S. District Judge Larry Burns did not rule on prosecutors’ motion to move hearings back to Tucson, so that victims do not have to make a 4-hour round trip to Phoenix.
Loughner’s hair has grown into a buzz cut since the initial hearing, and he was wearing glasses.
Judy Clarke, Loughner’s attorney, said she did not object to the prosecutors’ request but she did have concerns about where Loughner would be housed. He is being held in a federal detention facility north of Phoenix.
Clarke has experience representing high-profile defendants. She defended “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolph, and Susan Smith, a North Carolina woman who drowned her two sons.
When Judge Burns asked if Loughner understood the charges against him and Clarke’s job representing him, Clarke said, “We are not raising that issue at this time.”
Judge Burns, of San Diego, is hearing the case because all Arizona judges recused themselves; Arizona’s Chief Federal Judge John Roll was killed in the Jan. 8 shootings.
Prosecutor Wallace Kleindienst told Judge Burns he had turned over 250 interviews with witnesses and records taken from Loughner’s computer to Clarke before the hearing.
Kleindienst said that any further indictments against Loughner would be brought within the next 30 days.
Loughner has yet to be charged in the deaths of Judge Roll and Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman.
Judge Burns set the next hearing for March 9 at 1:30 p.m.