Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Federal prosecutors are seeking to drop two charges against accused Tucson, Arizona, shooter Jared Lee Loughner for the murders of Chief U.S. District Judge John Roll and Gabriel Zimmerman, an aide to Representative Gabrielle Giffords, according to court papers made public yesterday.
Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke said the charges should be dismissed “without prejudice to the government to seek indictment of these charges at a later date,” according to a filing dated Feb. 10. He is seeking to drop counts two and three of the original complaint filed in the case filed Jan. 9.
Loughner, 22, pleaded not guilty to charges he attempted to kill Giffords and two other members of her staff at a community meeting outside a Tucson supermarket. While charged in a complaint with the killing of Roll and Zimmerman at the meeting, Loughner hasn’t been indicted on those charges. Federal law requires a defendant be indicted before a case may proceed, giving prosecutors 30 days to seek one from a grand jury.
On Feb. 10, Loughner objected on privacy grounds to the release of a mug shot taken by federal authorities after he was arrested Jan. 8 as the suspect in the shooting rampage that killed six and wounded 13 people, including Giffords.
Release of the booking photograph through a Freedom of Information Act request would violate the policy of the U.S. Marshals Service not to release prisoner mug shots under the U.S. Privacy Act, Loughner’s lawyers said in a filing in federal court in Arizona.
San Diego Judge
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns, the San Diego judge appointed to preside over the case, said in an order this week that he will decide on Loughner’s request at a Feb. 18 hearing.
The Pima County Sheriff’s Office previously released a mug shot of Loughner taken after his arrest that shows him smiling and with a shaved head.
Judy Clarke, Loughner’s lead lawyer, and Manny Tarango, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke in Phoenix, didn’t return calls to their offices yesterday seeking comment.
The case is U.S. v. Loughner, 11-00187, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Tucson).
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