Prosecution wants Loughner's handwriting sample

AP News
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Posted: Mar 07, 2011 12:39 PM
Prosecution wants Loughner's handwriting sample

Prosecutors want the man accused of wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in a shooting that killed six people to provide a handwriting sample that can be compared to writings found in his home, including one that read, "Die, bitch."

Attorneys for Jared Lee Loughner have told a federal judge that their client shouldn't have to provide a sample because he's willing to look at the writings and perhaps agree that he wrote them. They also have argued that compelling Loughner to provide a writing sample violates his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

In a response filed Sunday, prosecutors argue that they can't be expected to accept Loughner's word, and that his rights are still protected.

Investigators found handwritten notes in a safe at Loughner's home after the Jan. 8 shooting at a Tucson grocery store. They read, "I planned ahead," "My assassination" and "Giffords." One note said "Die, bitch," and authorities believe that was a reference to Giffords.

Prosecutors say they want an FBI forensic examiner to instruct Loughner to copy certain letters, words, numbers or phrases onto paper "in a quantity necessary for the examiner to make an analysis and reliable conclusion."

It's unknown when U.S. District Judge Larry Burns will make a decision on the issue.

In another filing Sunday, prosecutors also argue that they should have access to Bureau of Prisons records, "no matter the content of those records." The filing is in response to a defense motion that argues the prosecution should not be allowed to have certain records, including notes from two psychologists who talked to Loughner shortly after his arrest and video of his solitary confinement cell while he was on suicide watch.

Loughner was charged Friday with the murders of U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, and with causing the deaths of four others who were not federal employees, including a 9-year-old girl. He also is charged with causing the death of a participant at a federally provided activity, injuring a participant at a federally provided activity and using a gun in a crime of violence.

Thirteen people, including Giffords, were wounded in the shooting at an event where the congresswoman was meeting with her constituents.

Loughner pleaded not guilty to earlier federal charges of trying to assassinate Giffords and kill two of her aides and is expected to enter a plea to the newer charges at a hearing Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors haven't yet said whether they will seek the death penalty against Loughner, but legal experts believe it's a virtual certainty.