Jared Lee Loughner enters guilty plea to avoid death penalty
Jared Lee Loughner has pleaded guilty to killing 6 people, attempting to assassinate former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), and wounding 12 others during last January’s shooting rampage outside a Tucson grocery store.
Loughner entered guilty pleas to 19 counts, including attempted assassination of a member of Congress and first degree murder of a federal employee, with the latter charge carrying the death penalty.
Under the plea deal, Loughner will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The agreement was reached after a federal judge ruled that Loughner was competent to stand trial after receiving mental health treatment.
“Given the defendant’s history of significant mental illness, this plea agreement, which requires the defendant to spend the remainder of his natural life in prison, with no possibility of parole, is a just and appropriate resolution of this case,” said U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo. “I hope that today’s resolution of this case will help the victims, their families, and the entire Tucson community take another step forward in the process of healing and recovering from this sad and tragic event.”
Giffords was greeting her constituents at a “Congress on Your Corner” event on Jan. 8, 2011 when Loughner shot her in the head at close range.
Armed with a semi-automatic pistol, Loughner then opened fire into the crowd, killing 6 and wounding 12.
Among the dead were two federal employees: U.S. District Court Chief Judge John M. Roll and Giffords’ Congressional aide Gabriel M. Zimmerman. Four other civilians were also killed. They were:
- Christina Taylor Green, age 9, was born on Sept. 11, 2001 and was elected student council president at Mesa Verde Elementary School shortly before her death.
- Dorwan Stoddard, age 76, a retired construction worker and avid volunteer at Mountain Avenue Church of Christ. He was killed while trying to shield his wife, Mavvy, from the hail of bullets. Mavvy was shot multiple times in her legs.
- Dorothy “Dot” Morris, age 76, is survived by her two daughters and her high school sweetheart and husband of 55 years, George, who was also shot during the mass shooting.
- Phyllis Schneck, age 79, a widow from New Jersey, was an active volunteer at Northminister Presbyterian Church in Tucson and was known for her cooking. She is survived by her three children, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
The 12 wounded were: Congressional aides Ronald S. Barber and Pamela K. Simon; Bill D. Badger, Kenneth W. Dorushka, James E. Fuller, Randy W. Gardner, Susan A. Hileman, George S. Morris, Mary C. Reed, Mavanell Stoddard, James L. Tucker, and Kenneth L. Veeder, Sr.
Loughner faces 7 consecutive life sentences for the murder and attempted assassination charges to be followed by 140 years in prison for the remaining charges.
“It is my hope that this decision will allow the Tucson community, and the nation, to continue the healing process free of what would likely be extended trial and pre-trial proceedings that would not have a certain outcome. The prosecutors and agents assigned to this matter have done an outstanding job and have ensured that justice has been done,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “In making the determination not to seek the death penalty, I took into consideration the views of the victims and survivor families, the recommendations of the prosecutors assigned to the case, and the applicable law.”
Loughner will be formally sentenced on Nov. 15, 2012.
- U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona: United States v. Jared Lee Loughner plea agreement – Aug. 7, 2012 (PDF)
- United States Attorney John S. Leonardo, District of Arizona: Jared Lee Loughner pleads guilty to federal charges in Tucson shooting (PDF)
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