Possible plea deal in Giffords shooting case

A courtroom sketch of Jared Lee Loughner CBS News

(AP) PHOENIX - A possible plea deal in the deadly Tucson shootings that wounded then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords would send Jared Lee Loughner to prison for the rest of his life, according to a person familiar with the case.

A court-appointed psychiatrist will testify Tuesday that Loughner is competent to enter a plea in the shooting rampage that killed six people and injured 13, including Giffords, said the person, who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

A status conference in the federal case had already been scheduled for Tuesday in Tucson.

The person, speaking Saturday about upcoming events in the case, said the plan is for Loughner to enter a guilty plea in the murders and attempted murders. The plan is contingent on the judge in the case allowing Loughner to enter the plea.

The Los Angeles Times reported earlier Saturday that Loughner was set to change his plea.

Bill Solomon, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said he could not comment on Loughner's case and the possibility of a guilty plea.

The Pima County attorney's office, which has said it could also pursue state prosecution of Loughner, declined to comment, said spokeswoman Isabel Burruel Smutzer.

Loughner had pleaded not guilty to 49 federal charges stemming from the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting outside a Tucson supermarket where Giffords was holding a meet-and-greet with constituents.

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Authorities said he shot Giffords, opened fire on the crowd and was subdued by bystanders. Giffords was shot in the head and subsequently left Congress to devote her time to rehabilitation.

Giffords and her husband were traveling in Europe, and spokeswoman Hayley Zachary said Saturday she had no information on developments in Loughner's case.

U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, a Democrat who was elected in June to replace Giffords in Congress after she resigned, also was wounded in the shooting. A spokesman for Barber did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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