Loughner pleads guilty in Tucson shooting

Posted Aug. 07, 2012, at 8:41 p.m.

TUCSON, Ariz. — Jared Lee Loughner pleaded guilty Tuesday to the Tucson shooting attack last year that killed six people and wounded 13, including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. A federal judge here concluded that Loughner understands at this time that he’s responsible for opening fire during a congressional constituent meeting in a parking lot.

Loughner pleaded guilty to 19 of the 49 charges against him. “I plead guilty,” he said over and over in court, acknowledging that he killed a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge and seriously wounded Giffords and a dozen other people.

The plea arrangement — struck between federal prosecutors and defense attorneys after months of legal debate over Loughner’s mental capacity — sets the stage for a likely prison sentence of life without parole.

The defense wanted the government to agree not to seek the death penalty, and it received that assurance under the plea agreement.

Loughner will be sentenced Nov. 15.

Whitey Bulger to testify in own defense

BOSTON — Former Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger will take the stand in his own defense when he goes on trial next year on charges that he participated in 19 murders, his attorney said Monday.

Attorney J.W. Carney Jr. said in court that Bulger will testify about his claim that he was given immunity for any crimes he committed while he was a top-echelon FBI informant against the Mafia.

Carney had said he planned to file a motion to dismiss the charges against Bulger based on his immunity claim. But he said he no longer plans to file such a motion because Bulger believes he can get a fairer hearing from a jury on the immunity claim than he can from the judge who is to preside at his trial.

Bulger, the former leader of the notorious Winter Hill Gang, fled Boston in 1994 after receiving a warning through his former FBI handler that he was about to be indicted. Now 82, he was captured last year in Santa Monica, Calif., after 16 years on the run.

Man found dead behind the wheel of car that ran red light

LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas police are scratching their heads after officers pursuing a car — one that appeared to be driving itself — found a dead man behind the wheel.

Authorities said a patrolman reported that he saw a Nissan Maxima blow through a red light about 6 p.m. Sunday but was perplexed to see no one in the driver’s seat.

After the car left the intersection, officials said, it jumped a median and veered into a landscaped area near a church before turning back into oncoming traffic and hitting another vehicle. It’s not clear how far the car traveled, but police said it wasn’t a short distance.

Finally catching up with the care, officers found a man with multiple gunshot wounds slouched in the driver’s seat. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“At some point, he was apparently driving the vehicle,” Laura Meltzer, a spokeswoman for the Las Vegas Police Department, told the Los Angeles Times. “Who knows if he was unconscious or deceased, but if his foot was on the gas pedal, the car is going to keep moving.”

Gunmen in Afghan uniform kill US soldier

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two gunmen wearing Afghan army uniforms killed a U.S. soldier and wounded two others Tuesday, hours after Afghanistan’s defense minister stepped down following a weekend no-confidence vote in parliament.

The exit of Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak leaves a vacancy at the helm of the ministry that has overseen rapid expansion of the nation’s army. Wardak’s resignation comes at the peak of the summer fighting season.

Violence on Tuesday hit eastern and southern Afghanistan, where militants have their deepest roots.

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