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Feds: 2 murder charges temporarily dropped in Ariz. shooting

By the CNN Wire Staff
Jared Lee Loughner is accused of opening fire at a Tucson supermarket in January, leaving six dead and 13 injured.
Jared Lee Loughner is accused of opening fire at a Tucson supermarket in January, leaving six dead and 13 injured.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Prosecutors say it's a procedural move
  • They intend to refile the charges in a superseding indictment

(CNN) -- In what prosecutors are calling a "procedural motion," two murder charges were dropped against Arizona shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner, although authorities intend to refile them in a superseding indictment.

The motion to dismiss the charges was filed Friday.

"It was a procedural motion to keep them off the books in order to bring them back under a superseding indictment," said Robbie Sherwood, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Phoenix.

Loughner, 22, is accused of shooting U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head at a "Congress on Your Corner" event at a Tucson, Arizona, grocery store, then shooting 18 other people, six of them fatally. The dead included Giffords staffer Gabe Zimmerman and U.S. District Judge John Roll. Giffords is currently recovering in a Houston rehabilitation hospital.

The initial complaint filed against Loughner had five counts -- one count of attempting to assassinate Giffords; two counts of attempted murder in the shootings of Giffords staffers Pamela Simon and Ron Barber; and two murder charges in the deaths of Roll and Zimmerman.

But Loughner was indicted on January 19 on the attempted assassination and the attempted murder charges.

Federal prosecutors are bringing forward those three counts first because of the investigation required on the murder counts, Sherwood said. They intend to present a superseding indictment containing the murder charges on March 9 at the next status hearing in the case, he said. "We have the option to bring them back up."

CNN's Nick Valencia contributed to this report.

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