SAN DIEGO — A judge said Friday the U.S. Marshals Service must decide if another mug shot can be released of the suspect in the Arizona shootings that killed six people and wounded U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and a dozen others.
U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns also said in San Diego that he will keep search warrant records in the case sealed at least until another expected indictment is filed next month with additional charges.
Burns, who is overseeing the criminal case, wants to determine if the release of the documents would hurt the chance of a fair trial for 22-year-old suspect Jared Lee Loughner.
The company that operates The Arizona Republic newspaper and the Phoenix TV station KPNX has been seeking records that show which items investigators took from Loughner's house after the Jan. 8 shooting.
Loughner has pleaded not guilty to federal charges. He was not at the hearing.Story: Loughner pleads not guilty to Tucson shootings
Loughner pleaded not guilty to federal charges of trying to assassinate Giffords and kill two of her aides.
The indictment specifying those charges superseded an earlier federal complaint that also charged him with murder for the killings of U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman.
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Another indictment is expected to restore those murder charges. Loughner also will likely face state charges in the attack.
Burns of San Diego was appointed to hear the case after all the federal judges in Arizona recused themselves because of their connection to Roll, who was the chief federal judge in Arizona.
David Bodney, an attorney representing The Arizona Republic and KPNX-TV, argued in court papers that there's no basis for the records to continue to be sealed, that the public has a right to the records that have been under seal since Jan. 11, and that prosecutors haven't shown how making the document public would harm their case.Video: Loughner’s mental state to be major legal issue
Judy Clarke, one of Loughner's attorneys, said in court records that her client's right to a fair trial might be harmed by the release of search warrant records.
She also said the documents contain potentially inflammatory statements by a law enforcement officer and that releasing the information could have a prejudicial effect on the prospective jury pool.
Prosecutor Beverly K. Anderson said in court papers that the federal government agreed with Loughner's attorneys who maintain the records shouldn't be released until lawyers litigate issues based on the items seized from the suspect's house. But Anderson said if the judge decides to unseal the records, prosecutors want parts of the records to still be kept private.
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