PHOENIX –  A 22-year-old man described as a social outcast with wild beliefs steeped in mistrust faces a federal court hearing on charges he tried to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in a Tucson shooting rampage that left six people dead.

Public defenders are asking that the attorney who defended Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Timothy McVeigh and “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski defend Jared Loughner, who makes his first court appearance Monday at 2 p.m. MST (4 p.m. EST).

The hearing in Phoenix comes just a few hours after President Barack Obama leads a shocked and saddened nation in a moment of silence for the victims and their families. Obama will observe the moment of silence at 11 a.m. EST with White House staff on the South Lawn.

As authorities filed the charges against Loughner Sunday, they alleged he scrawled on an envelope the words “my assassination” and “Giffords” sometime before he took a cab to a shopping center where the congresswoman was meeting with constituents Saturday morning.

Continue reading →