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Loughner change of plea hearing set
PHOENIX — The judge overseeing the deadly Tucson, Ariz., mass shooting case on Monday scheduled competency and change of plea hearings for defendant Jared Lee Loughner.
Loughner has spent more than a year in a federal medical facility in Missouri being treated for mental illness.
A person familiar with the case told The Associated Press on Saturday that a court-appointed psychiatrist is to testify that Loughner is competent to enter a plea. The person was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The person said the plea agreement would have Loughner receive a life sentence, taking the possibility of the death penalty off the table in the federal case.
The top prosecutor in southern Arizona’s Pima County said last year that she may file state charges in the case that could carry the death penalty.
The state prosecution has been suspended while the federal case went forward, and County Attorney Barbara LaWall was not available for comment on Monday. Her spokeswoman, Isabel Burruel-Smutzer, declined to comment, saying the office did not have an active prosecution against Loughner.
• Associated Press writer Pete Yost in Washington contributed to this report.
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