AP110110118129By all accounts, Jared Loughner's high-powered lawyer is an expert at keeping her clients off death row, even in the cases of reviled lone-wolf killers such as Ted Kaczynski and Atlanta Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph.
But can Judy Clarke take the death penalty out of play for Loughner, whose alleged horrifying rampage left six people dead, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl?
Though the Justice Department has not yet said whether it will pursue a death-penalty sentence, veteran lawyers told the Associated Press that federal prosecutors are likely to seek the ultimate punishment, given the gravity of the charges against Loughner.
Clarke has two main ways she could try to fend off the death sentence:
First, Clarke could convince a jury that Loughner's mental illness was so severe that he did not understand what he was doing was wrong when he began to kill. (This is assuming Loughner will plead guilty, given the many witnesses to the crime and the FBI evidence that suggests he had a grudge against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.) Loughner would then be committed to a mental institution instead of prison.Read More »from Will prosecutors try to make Loughner’s trial a death-penalty case?