SAN DIEGO (AP) — A federal judge decided Friday against a request by news organizations to unseal search warrant records listing the items seized from the home of the suspect in the Arizona shooting rampage that killed six people and wounded U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns cited the ongoing investigation and an expected superseding indictiment that is expected to hand down additional charges against 22-year-old Jared Loughner.
Burns said he would take up the matter again after March 9, when hearing is scheduled. Burns said it would be clear then whether another indictment would come down with additional charges. He also opted Friday not to rule on a request to release a second mugshot of Loughner to the media, saying he was leaving the decision up to the U.S. Marshals Service.
Defense attorneys had argued the release of the documents and mugshot would hurt the chance of a fair trial for Loughner. Burns said he was unsure of that argument, indicating he may release the documents after March 9.
"It will likely be a different story as of March 9," Burns said. He also noted the investigation is ongoing.
The company that operates The Arizona Republic and the Phoenix TV station KPNX has been seeking records that show what items investigators took from Loughner's house after the Jan. 8 shooting.
Loughner has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of trying to assassinate Giffords and kill two of her aides. He was not at the hearing.
Federal prosecutors and lawyers for Loughner oppose requests by news organizations to hand over the photo.
The indictment specifying those charges superseded an earlier federal complaint that also charged him with murder for the killings of U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman.
An upcoming indictment is expected to restore those murder charges. Loughner also will likely face state charges in the attack.
U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns of San Diego was appointed to hear the case after all the federal judges in Arizona recused themselves because of their connection to Roll, who was the chief federal judge in Arizona.
David Bodney, an attorney representing The Arizona Republic and KPNX-TV, argued in court papers that there's no basis for the records to continue to be sealed, that the public has a right to the records that have been under seal since Jan. 11, and that prosecutors haven't shown how making the document public would harm their case.
Judy Clarke, one of Loughner's attorneys, said in court records that her client's right to a fair trial might be harmed by the release of search warrant records.
She also said the documents contain potentially inflammatory statements by a law enforcement officer and that releasing the information could have a prejudicial effect on the prospective jury pool.
Loughner's attorneys also asked the court to bar the release of a mug shot taken in Phoenix of Loughner while in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. The unreleased photo is a different image from a mug shot that was released by the Pima County Sheriff's Office two days after his arrest.
Prosecutors described the new mug shot as showing Loughner with abrasions on his face and a cinderblock-wall background.
Clarke argued the new photo invades Loughner's privacy rights, doesn't serve any legitimate public interest and that mug shots reveal people at their most humiliating moments.
The news organizations that initially requested the mug shot included the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, KOLD-TV in Tucson and KPHO-TV KTVK-TV, both in Phoenix.
Associated Press writer Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed to this report.
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