Jared Loughner is set to plead guilty Tuesday in the shooting attack that severely wounded then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Los Angeles Times reports. Mental health experts believe he is now competent to understand the charges against him in the assault, which killed six people and injured 13 at a gathering with Giffords’ constituents in Tucson. Psychiatric experts who have examined Loughner, 23, are to testify that despite wide swings in his mental capacity, at this time he comprehends what happened and acknowledges the gravity of the charges.
Many victims of the Jan. 8, 2011, attack and their families are likely to attend the hearing in downtown Tucson. Survivors would be invited to testify about the assault and their injuries at a separate hearing yet to be scheduled, in which Loughner would be formally sentenced, probably to life in prison. Loughner's agreement to plead guilty would probably end more than a year and a half of psychiatric evaluations and testing, including some periods in which he was medicated at a federal prison hospital. Giffords has left Congress and has been replaced by Ron Barber, a former aide who also was wounded in the Tucson attack.