Today in federal court, Jared Lee Loughner — suspect in the January 8th shooting of Gabrielle Giffords that wounded her and 12 others and killed 6 people, including a 9-year-old girl — pleaded not guilty to charges that he tried to kill Giffords and two aides. He’ll face additional state charges regarding the 6 people shot and killed, and the others wounded. Via Bloomberg Businessweek, Loughner “walked into the courtroom smiling,” then entered his plea.
Is this preparation for a not-guilty by insanity defense that goes along with Loughner’s straight out of serial-killer-central-casting mugshot? Considering the surveillance video, numerous eyewitnesses, notes indicating pre-planning, and Loughner’s widely reported erratic behavior prior to the shooting, that may be the clearest option for his legal defense, helmed by Unabomber lawyer Judy Clarke. It would also help him avoid the death penalty.
The Christian Science Monitor points out the two-pronged standard for insanity in the U.S. and the U.K.:
The rule is twofold: Does the accused understand the nature of his act? And did he know the act was morally wrong?
Thus begins a legal drama that’s sure to be lengthy and in no small way disconcerting.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 24, 2011