Loughner sentenced to life without parole
A federal judge sentenced Jared Lee Loughner to life in prison for the 2011 shooting rampage that killed 6 people and wounded 13 others, including former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords.
The 24-year-old Loughner will serve 7 consecutive life sentences, followed by 140 years in prison, without the possibility for parole.
The sentencing took place a few months after Loughner pleaded guilty to 19 criminal counts, including attempted assassination of a member of Congress and first degree murder of a federal employee. The plea deal allowed Loughner, who has been diagnosed with the mental illness schizophrenia, to avoid the death penalty.
Giffords, who was shot in the head, attended today’s sentencing with her husband, Mark Kelly.
“Though you are mentally ill, you are responsible for the death and hurt you inflicted on all of us,” Kelly told Loughner in court. “You have decades upon decades to contemplate what you did. After today, after this moment, Gabby and I are done thinking about you.”
Giffords was greeting constituents at a “Congress on Your Corner” event outside a Safeway grocery store on Jan. 8, 2011 when Loughner walked up and shot her in the head at close range.
Loughner then turned his semi-automatic pistol and shot into the crowd, killing 6 and wounding 12. Thirty-three bullets were fired before he was restrained.
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.
“We believe that Jared Loughner received the most appropriate sentence today and that justice has been done,” said U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo. “Today’s sentence insures that Mr. Loughner will spend the rest of his life in prison and will never be in a position to harm others again. It is our hope that the conclusion of this case will finally bring some level of closure to the victims of this tragic event, to their families, and to the community at large.”
According to the Arizona Daily Star, Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall said she won’t pursue a separate trial against Loughner on behalf of the victims who weren’t federal employees.
“[Federal prosecutors] fashioned a guilty plea that offered a measure of justice for each and every one of the victims,” LaWall told the paper.
- U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo, District of Arizona: Loughner Post-Sentencing Statement by U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo (PDF)
- U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo, District of Arizona: Jared Lee Loughner sentenced on federal charges in Tucson shooting (PDF)
- WhatTheFolly.com: Jared Lee Loughner enters guilty plea to avoid death penalty