Jared Loughner’s best chance of avoiding conviction and a possible death penalty in last year’s Tucson shootings will be if he is found incompetent to stand trial because of his mental illness, says the Arizona Republic. The odds are against that happening: Most criminal defendants are found competent to stand trial, especially in high-profile cases.
The next-best hope for the man accused of last year’s mass shooting near Tucson is to mount an insanity defense, which, contrary to popular perception, is used in fewer than 1 percent of all criminal trials and is successful only about a quarter of the time it is used. “It’s the biggest loser defense known to man,” said Donna Elm, federal public defender for the Middle District of Florida. “It’s so rare that the news goes through the entire defense community when someone wins one.” Loughner, 23, is charged with 49 felonies arising from the Jan. 8, 2011, shootings outside a supermarket near Tucson where U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was meeting with constituents.