Accused Tucson Gunman Jared Loughner Smiles Through Hearing

Photo: Jared Loughner
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With a broad smile on his face, accused Tucson gunman Jared Loughner pleaded not guilty today to several charges stemming from the deadly shooting earlier this month.

Shackled at his waist and ankles, Loughner did not stop smiling during the court proceedings, staring straight ahead as the crowded courtroom looked on.

He remained silent during the arraignment, allowing his lawyer, Judy Clarke, to enter the not guilty plea for him.

With a fresh buzz cut and clad in an orange wrinkled jumpsuit, Loughner stood as directed when U.S. District Judge Larry Burns entered the courtroom. He sat flanked by U.S. Marshals and spoke only to answer a few questions from Clarke. Clarke also patted Loughner on the back several times during the proceedings.

Loughner, 22, is accused of the Jan. 8 shooting that killed six and injured several others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who suffered a gunshot wound to the head.

Among those who died was 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, who had been attending Giffords' event to learn more about how the country's government worked.

Loughner faces five federal charges: one count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress, two counts of killing an employee of the United States and two counts of intent to kill employees of the United States. He will likely face state charges as well.

He pleaded not guilty today to the charges of attempting to kill Giffords and two of her aides. He has yet to be arraigned on the charge of murdering a federal judge.

Loughner has been held at the Phoenix Correctional Institution, which is located 140 miles north of Tucson, but in court today the prosecution argued for the case to be moved back to Tucson.

Clarke said she wants the opportunity to talk about where Loughner would be housed if the case were to be moved back to Tucson, and said she would inform the court of her concerns in the next few days. Clarke did not mention anything regarding Loughner's mental competency.

When asked by Burns if there was any discovery in the case Clarke said she was presented with an envelope of some disks right before the court appearance. The prosecution says they have turned over 25 disks from Loughner's computer and 250 accounts of witnesses.

Loughner is next expected in court on March 9 for a status hearing on all the charges, including additional murder charges.

In the wake of the shooting, many people from ex-girlfriends to former professors who taught Loughner have come forward to say that they had long been concerned about the defendant's behavior.

Ashley Figueroa, who dated Loughner in high school, said that he appeared "soulless" when she ran into him a few months prior to the shooting.

"He used to scare me sometimes," Figueroa told ABC News' affiliate KGUN. "He'd make me feel uncomfortable. He'd get really mad, clench his fist and kind of have a little tantrum. He'd flail his arms and walk off."

When Loughner was just 17 he was arrested after drinking so much vodka that his school sent him to a hospital emergency room.

"[Loughner] advised that he drank the alcohol because he was very upset as his father yelled at him," according to the May 2006 Pima County Sheriff's office police report obtained by ABC News. "I could see his eyes were very red and he was crying...I was advised that he had stolen the alcohol from his father's liquor cabinet." He was charged with charged as a minor with possession of alcohol.

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