Jared L. Loughner, the man accused of killing 6 people and wounding Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others in a 2011 shooting rampage, will plead guilty in an Arizona court on Tuesday, a person briefed on the case said on Sunday.
The development would be a surprising twist in a case that began when Ms. Giffords, a Democrat, was shot in the head while meeting with constituents at a shopping center in Tucson on Jan. 8, 2011. Thirty-one shots were fired from a handgun in the attack. Among those killed were a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl.
The decision by Mr. Loughner to plead guilty came after psychiatric evaluations found him competent to stand trial in a case in which prosecutors most likely would have argued for a death sentence if he was convicted.
Mr. Loughner, who faced 49 criminal charges, including first-degree murder, initially pleaded not guilty but was declared mentally incompetent to stand trial in May 2011 after an outburst that forced deputy marshals to remove him from the courtroom.
Mr. Loughner, who is 23, has since been undergoing court-ordered treatment at a federal psychiatric hospital in Springfield, Mo., as prosecutors and defense lawyers contested whether he would ever be fit to stand trial.
A guilty plea, if accepted by Judge Larry A. Burns of Federal District Court, who is presiding over the case, would most likely result in a life sentence and avoid a prolonged trial. The development was first reported in The Los Angeles Times on Saturday.
The person briefed on the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a legal proceeding, said psychiatric experts who had evaluated Mr. Loughner recently determined that he was, after treatment that included forced medication, competent enough to change his plea and would testify to that effect at a scheduled hearing on Tuesday in Tucson.
The person noted that it would be up to Judge Burns to accept the
plea after hearing testimony from experts.
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