crimesider

Arizona Shooting: Will Jared Loughner Face the Death Penalty?

Arizona Shooting: Will Jared Loughner Face the Death Penalty?
Jared Loughner (Personal Photo)

NEW YORK (CBS) The father of Christina Green, the youngest victim in the Tucson, Arizona shooting spree, told CBS News that suspect Jared Loughner should be put to death, and according to a Phoenix defense attorney, it's likely that Loughner will face death penalty trials at both state and federal level.

PICTURES: Arizona Shooting Victims

Crimesider spoke with Adrian Fontes, a Phoenix defense attorney who practices criminal law in federal court, about whether or not prosecutors will pursue the death penalty against Loughner.

Fontes said the first question is one of jurisdiction - who will try Loughner? - and that in this regard Loughner's case resembles that of Timothy McVeigh. McVeigh was tried and convicted in both state and federal court of capital charges for the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995 and was executed by the U.S. Government in June of 2001.

Loughner is currently only facing federal charges, but state charges are likely.

On the federal level, at least one of the five charges currently against Loughner is considered an "automatic" death penalty offense: the killing of federal judge John M. Roll, a United States District Judge. Other factors are that his alleged target, Rep. Giffords, was shot while performing her official duties, as were three of the other wounded, federal employees who were assisting Rep. Giffords.

On a state level, the case appears to meet many of the requirements for the death penalty in Arizona. The statute defines capital homicide as one where the suspect "knowingly created grave risk of death to persons in addition to victim; [the act is] especially heinous, cruel or depraved...[and/or involves an] adult person and victim under 15 or over 70."

There is also the question of premeditation, according to Fontes, did Loughner plan the attack?

Loughner's YouTube rants would seem to say yes, and it's likely that state prosecutors will point to those and letters found in his home as proof that Loughner planned the attack.

According to Fontes, the decision to pursue the death penalty is not a decision prosecutors make lightly - despite any public outcry - but Fontes said he wouldn't be surprised if the federal prosecutor's office wasn't already preparing their death penalty certification application.

For John Green, the father of 9-year-old Christina, the death penalty is fitting. "My wife is very forgiving in that regard," Green told CBS' "The Early Show." "I'm a little about the Old West. It's a fairly clear-cut case, and I'm a fan of capital punishment in this regard," .

COMPLETE COVERAGE OF THE ARIZONA SHOOTING FROM CBS NEWS

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