News outlets want release of more Tucson documents

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

TUCSON, Ariz. — Three news organizations asked a federal judge Tuesday to release some of the sealed and unredacted search warrants that followed the 2011 Tucson shooting rampage that wounded former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Attorneys for The Washington Post, Phoenix TV station KPNX and Phoenix Newspapers Inc., which publishes the Arizona Republic, want U.S. District Judge Larry Burns to unseal any remaining documents in the case or “disclose any redacted information that no longer satisfies the First Amendment standard for secrecy.”

About 2,700 pages of investigative papers were released March 27 by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, but at least four documents remained sealed.

In a separate motion Tuesday, federal prosecutors asked Burns to give them until May 8 to file their response to the unsealing request. They said they needed more time to review the material and have already consulted with lawyers for Jared Lee Loughner.

Loughner, 24, was sentenced in November to seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years, after he pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges in the Tucson shooting that left six people dead and 13 others wounded, including Giffords.

The rampage occurred at a Giffords’ meet-and-greet with her constituents outside a Tucson supermarket on Jan. 8, 2011.

Giffords, 42, was shot once in the head. The Arizona Democrat resigned from Congress last year as she continues to recover from her injuries.

Loughner’s guilty plea enabled him to avoid the death penalty. He’s serving his sentence at a federal prison medical facility in Springfield, Mo., where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and forcibly given psychotropic drug treatments to make him fit for trial.

News outlets pushed for months for the release of all investigative records in the case, claiming Loughner’s fair-trial rights were no longer on the line now that his criminal case has been resolved.

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