Loughner change of plea hearing set

Jared Loughner
U.S. Marshals Service

(CBS/AP) PHOENIX - Jared Lee Loughner, the primary suspect in last year's deadly Arizona mass shooting, arrived in Tucson Monday for competency and change of plea hearings, the U.S. Marshals Service confirmed.

The judge overseeing the case scheduled the hearings Monday morning. That afternoon Loughner was housed in the federal prison facility on Wilmot Road

U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns scheduling order confirms that a plea deal has been reached in the shooting that left six dead and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others wounded outside a supermarket where the Congresswoman was holding a meet-and-greet with constituents.

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Court documents show that the hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 11 a.m. MST.

Loughner had pleaded not guilty to 49 federal charges stemming from the Jan. 8, 2011 incident.

Before Loughner can enter the plea, Burns must find that Loughner is mentally competent, understands what is happening and voluntarily entered the deal.

CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen reports that federal prosecutors probably won't be pushing for the death penalty in exchange for Loughner's guilty plea. Rather, prosecutors will argue that he "should spend the rest of his life in a federal prison, perhaps one of the special mental health facilities that are part of the Bureau of Prisons," Cohen said.

Even so, Loughner could still face the death penalty if state prosecutors in Arizona try the suspect on capital murder charges.

Loughner has spent more than a year in a federal medical facility in Missouri being treated for mental illness.

Burns had ruled that Loughner wasn't psychologically fit to stand trial last year, but that he could be made ready for trial after treatment. Experts have concluded that Loughner suffers from schizophrenia.