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Suspect Who Shot US Congresswoman Faces Death Penalty

Tuscon shooting rampage suspect Jared Lee Loughner is pictured in this undated booking photograph released by the U.S. Marshals Service on February 22, 2011

The man accused of shooting a U.S. congresswoman and others at a public event, has been charged with murder, attempted assassination, and killing participants at an event.

The U.S. Justice Department announced Friday a federal grand jury in Arizona has indicted Jared Loughner, 22, on 49 criminal counts. Three of the crimes he is charged with carry a possible death sentence. U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke said the severity of the charges requires a "deliberate and thorough process," which he said was ongoing.

Loughner is accused of shooting U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the head as she met with constituents outside a grocery store in the Arizona city of Tucson. Six people were killed in the attack and 13 others were wounded.

U.S. Attorney Burke said in the statement Friday the indictment also names as victims all the other people who attended Giffords' event, as they were exercising, in his words, a "precious right" of American citizens, to "meet freely and openly" with their congressional representative.

Thursday's indictment replaces an earlier indictment that did not include murder charges. Loughner is scheduled to be arraigned on the new charges at a hearing on March 9.

Giffords suffered a brain injury and is undergoing rehabilitation in Houston, Texas, where her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, lives.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.