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Slain Judge John Roll Tried to Shield Other Tucson Victim, Video Indicates

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Videotape of the gruesome scene of the mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., shows that Chief U.S. District Judge John M. Roll apparently tried to help another victim before he himself was shot to death in the back by suspected gunman Jared Lee Loughner, the New York Times reported Tuesday evening in a graphic account of the chaos and death at a neighborhood Safeway supermarket on Jan. 8.

Richard Kastigator, described by the Times as the "investigative and operational bureau chief of the Pima County Sheriff's Department," told the paper that Judge Roll was "intentionally try to help Mr. [Ronald] Barber,' adding 'It's very clear to me the judge was thinking of his fellow human more than himself . . . He pushes Mr. Barber with his right hand and guides him with his left hand. The judge was on top of him and is covering up Mr. Barber, literally lying on top of him, and his back was exposed.'"

Both the Times and the Washington Post are reporting that the videotape shows Judge Roll then being shot in the back. He died that day. Barber is district director for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the target of the assassination attempt. He was shot twice but was released from the hospital last Friday morning and attended services that day for Roll.

The existence of surveillance video of the attack, which resulted in six dead and 13 wounded, including Giffords, will undoubtedly be part of the prosecution's federal murder case against Loughner, which could bring with it the possibility of the death penalty.

Although it's now already been characterized by sources and reporters, just 10 days after the deadly incident, the tape is not likely to be shown publicly unless and until jurors at Loughner's trial see it.

The death of Roll, an appointee of George H.W. Bush, prompted all 18 active and senior federal trial judges in Arizona to recuse themselves last week from the Loughner case. A judge from San Diego, Larry A. Burns, an appointee of George W. Bush, has been named by a federal appeals court to preside over the politically charged trial. It is possible, even likely, that the trial will have to be moved from Arizona because of fair trial concerns.

Judge Roll's funeral, attended by hundreds, including busloads of judges, was last Friday. Earlier in the week, President Obama eulogized the judge in his national address about the Tucson tragedy. Upon Roll's death, the chief justice of the United States, John G. Roberts, Jr., issued a statement on behalf of the Supreme Court, saying Judge Roll "was a wise jurist who selflessly served Arizona and the nation with great distinction, as attorney and judge, for more than 35 years."

The chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Alex Kozinski, who appointed Judge Burns to take control of the Loughner case, said that "Judge Roll was a widely respected jurist, a strong and able leader of his court, and a kind, courteous and sincere gentleman."
Filed Under: Arizona Shooting
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You were a good man, Chief U.S. District Judge John M. Roll. Rest In Peace. My prayers are with your family.

January 19 2011 at 9:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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