11 Jan 2011

Accused killer in court in Arizona

2:03 pm on 11 January 2011

The man accused of shooting 20 people while trying to assassinate a United States Congresswoman in Arizona on Saturday afternoon, has made his first court appearance.

Jared Loughner, 22, entered a federal court in Phoenix on Monday staring straight ahead, with his hands manacled together.

He made no statement, but answered questions saying he understood the five charges against him and had been appointed a lawyer. No plea was entered.

When asked, the accused said he understood that he could get life in prison or the death penalty for the killing of federal Judge John Roll.

Attorney Judy Clarke, who defended Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, was at the defendant's table.

Federal Magistrate Judge Lawrence Anderson ordered the accused detained until further order of the court, calling him a "danger to the community."

Charges filed so far include killing federal employees and attempting to assassinate Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

Six people died in the shooting and 14 were wounded.

Ms Giffords, 40, is in a critical condition with a gunshot to the brain. She had been holding a meeting with constituents outside a store.

Earlier in Washington, President Barack Obama led a moment's silence at 11am EST to honour those killed in the shooting. Flags are at half mast across the nation.