A possible plea deal is in the works that would allow Jared Lee Loughner to plead guilty to last year's Tucson shooting rampage in exchange for life in prison.
Loughner is accused of a shooting spree that left six people dead and wounded 13 others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
The 23-year-old has spent the time since the shooting in a federal mental hospital after being found incompetent to stand trial.
Initially his court appearance later today, was to consider if treatment from doctors and psychologists and the use of psychotropic drugs have made Loughner stable enough to understand the murder and attempted murder charges against him.
Now there are indications Loughner could plead guilty to those charges.
At least one doctor is scheduled to testify, and newly released court documents show the judge in the high-profile case will rule on Loughner's competency during the hearing.
If he is mentally stable enough to understand the charges the judge has indicated he will "also consider whether to accept the defendant's proffered pleas".
That could spare Loughner the death penalty.