San Diego Lawyer May Defend Ariz Shooting Suspect - NBC 7 San Diego

San Diego Lawyer May Defend Ariz Shooting Suspect



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    This March 2010 photo shows a man identified as Jared L. Loughner at the 2010 Tucson Festival of Books in Tucson, Ariz. The Arizona Daily Star, a festival sponsor, confirmed from their records that the subject's address matches one under investigation by police after a shooting in Tucson that left U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords wounded and at least five others dead. Police say a suspect is in custody, and he was identified by people familiar with the investigation as Jared Loughner, 22, of Tucson. (AP Photo/Arizona Daily Star, Mamta Popat) NO MAGS, NO SALES, MANDATORY CREDIT

    The federal public defender's office in Arizona said it planned to ask San Diego attorney Judy Clarke to represent the Arizona man who tried to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others during a shooting in Tucson Saturday.

    Clarke, a former federal public defender in San Diego, has extensive experience in several extremely high profile cases.

    Prosecutors charged 22-year old Jared Lee Loughner with one county of attempted assassination of a member of Congress, two counts of killing an employee of the federal government and two counts of attempting to kill a federal employee. More local charges are expected when he makes his first court appearance Monday at 1 p.m. PST.

    Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said Loughner was not cooperating and told ABC News the suspect had said "not a word" to investigators.

    Gabby Giffords San Diego Connection

    [DGO] Gabby Giffords San Diego Connection
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    (Published Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011)

    Giffords, 40, lay in intensive care at a Tucson hospital, after being shot in the head at close range. Doctors said she had responded repeatedly to commands to stick out her two fingers, giving them hope she may survive.

    Clarke has served on teams that defended high profile cases including 9/11 conspirator Zakarias Massaoui, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Timothy McVeigh and Susan Smith, a South Carolina woman who drowned her two sons in 1994.

    "She's very well qualified to defend this person on which we'll probably be charges and will probably seek the death penalty on those charges," said San Diego attorney Gretchen von Helms.

    Von Helms said two defenders will likely work with the suspect due to the complexity of the case.

    Discoveries at Loughner's home in southern Arizona, where he lived with his parents in a middle-class neighborhood lined with desert landscaping and palm trees, have provided few answers to what motivated him.

    Court papers filed with the charges said he had previous contact with Giffords. The documents said he had received a letter from the Democratic lawmaker in which she thanked him for attending a "Congress on your Corner" event at a mall in Tucson in 2007.

    Investigators carrying out a search warrant at his parents' home in a middle-class neighborhood found an envelope in a safe with the words "I planned ahead," "My assassination" and the name "Giffords" next to what appears to be his signature.

    Neighbors said Loughner kept to himself and was often seen walking his dog, almost always wearing a hooded sweat shirt and listening to his iPod.

    Comments from friends and former classmates bolstered by Loughner's own Internet postings have painted a picture of a social outcast with almost indecipherable beliefs steeped in mistrust and paranoia.

    "This is a very difficult case to defend anyone on. You have multiple victims, you have multiple eyewitnesses to the scene of the crime. You probably have a lot of forensic evidence as well. And you have a what seems like a mental disorder," Von Helms said.

    Other public defenders said that Clarke is the best of the best in public defense. Death sentences were avoided in many of her high profile cases.

    The six killed included U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63, and 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who was born on Sept. 11, 2001, and was featured in a book called "Faces of Hope" that chronicled one baby from each state born on the day terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people.

    The author, Christine Naman, said: "Tragedy seems to have happened again."

    Green was recently elected as a student council member and went to the morning's event because of her interest in government.

    Others killed were Giffords' aide Gabe Zimmerman, 30; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Schneck, 79.