Loughner sentenced to life in prison without parole
Jared Loughner, who pleaded guilty to a 2011 mass shooting, will be sentenced Thursday.
November 8th, 2012
04:31 PM ET

Loughner sentenced to life in prison without parole

Editor's note: Jared Loughner, the Arizona man who pleaded guilty to the January 2011 attempted assassination of then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without parole. The shooting at a meet-and-greet in Tucson killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Giffords. Below are details from inside and outside the courthouse as we received them.

[Updated at 4:31 p.m.] Today's sentencing means Jared Loughner "will never again be free to hurt or menace the American public," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a news release.

“For the victims, their families and the larger community impacted by this tragic event in our nation’s history, it is my sincere hope that this conclusion will help in their journey toward physical and emotional recovery," Holder said. "I want to express my gratitude to the many prosecutors and agents who worked on this matter for their outstanding service to our country and dedication to seeing justice prevail.”

[Updated at 3:31 p.m.] U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, who was elected in June to replace his former boss Giffords, and was shot in the leg during the January 2011 shooting, is speaking at a post-sentencing news conference:

"January 8 (2011) ... was the day that shocked our community and broke our hearts, and we struggled to make sense of it, but there is absolutely no way to make sense ... of those acts," Barber said.

He praised the community for its kindness and compassion in helping victims recover. He said he and his family agreed with the plea deal, saying it was right that Loughner would spend the rest of his life in prison, and that the victims would be spared the pain of a long trial.

[Updated at 2:16 p.m.] Judge Larry Burns has sentenced Loughner to seven consecutive life terms in prison, plus 140 years, without the possibility of parole.

Burns said six of the life sentences represent the six slain victims, and one represents the attempted assassination of Giffords.

"Each of those victims was important," Burns said. "It reflects each of those individual lives. There is a symbolic nature in this."

"He should never get out of prison. I find this is just punishment. He will never have the opportunity to pick up a gun and do this again," Burns said.

[Updated at 1:59 p.m.] Judge Larry Burns, preparing to sentence Loughner, says: “The evidence clearly shows that he knew what he was doing, despite his mental illness.”

[Updated at 1:51 p.m.] The prosecutor, assistant U.S. Attorney Wallace Kleindienst, now addresses Jared Loughner: "Mr. Loughner, you have been given a gift, whether you know it or not."

"Almost all the victims you shot and the families of those you killed came to us and said they didn’t want us to seek the death penalty in this case," the prosecutor said. "What you did was wrong, but they felt it wasn't right to execute a man with a mental illness.

"You are going to have the rest of your life. Our hope that as you get better emotionally and physically, that you will find some way to atone for what you did on January 8 (2011)."

The prosecutor then asked the court to accept the plea agreement, which calls for Loughner to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.

[Updated at 1:50 p.m.] A prosecutor has talked about each shooting victim, detailing who they were and why they were at the Tucson meet-and-greet.

“There is another victim in this case. We would be remiss to acknowledge that Mr. and Mrs. Loughner have lost their son,” the prosecutor said.

[Updated at 1:48 p.m.] We now have the full, prepared remarks by Giffords' husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, who spoke in court minutes ago. It includes a few items that we didn't manage to include in this post right away: He criticized some elected officials' stances on gun control, and called for a "change in the way we conduct politics."

[Updated at 1:16 p.m.] The U.S. attorney is now talking: "Democracy was attacked that Saturday morning by a mentally ill man with almost 100 rounds of ammunition. It was an assault on democracy."

[Updated at 1:15 p.m.] More testimony from Giffords' husband Mark Kelly, standing with Giffords at the podium: "Mr. Loughner, you may have put a bullet through her head, but you have not put a dent in her spirit, and her (ability to do good)."

"Gabby and I are done thinking about you," Kelly said.

Kelly and Giffords, holding hands, then returned to their seats.

[Updated at 1:14 p.m.] More testimony from Giffords' husband Mark Kelly, standing with Giffords at the podium: "Her life has been forever changed ... immeasurably altered. Every day is a continual struggle to do those things she was once so ... good at. ...

"If she was not born with the name Gabby, someone would have given it to her. Now she struggles with each and every word."

"Gabby struggles to walk," Kelly said, going on to explain that her right arm is in a brace and that she is partially blind.

"You sought to extinguish the beauty of life. ... You tried to create for us a world as dark and evil as your own," Kelly said. "Know this, and remember it always: You failed."

"Gabby and I give thanks for her life, her spirit and her intellect, which are still a force in this world despite what you have done."

[Updated at 1:09 p.m.] Testimony now from Giffords' husband Mark Kelly, standing with Giffords at the podium: "That bright and chilly Saturday morning, you killed six innocent people. They were devoted to their families, church, community.

"Gabby would trade her own life to bring back any one of those you savagely murdered that day, especially young Christina Taylor Green ... especially (then-Giffords staffer) Gabe Zimmerman ... especially Judge John Roll. ...

"Gabby would give anything to take away the grief (of other victims)."

[Updated at 1:06 p.m.] Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, have approached the podium. Kelly is speaking.

[Updated at 1:01 p.m.] More testimony from U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, who was elected in June to replace his former boss Giffords and was shot in the leg during the January 2011 shooting: "Now you (Loughner) must pay the price of the terror, violence and injuries you caused."

"I support the plea agreement," Barber said of the deal that calls for life in prison sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. "We will all be spared the pain of a lengthy trial and appeals."

"In closing," Barber said, "I want to address your parents. ... Mr. and Mrs. Loughner, please note that I and my family hold no animosity toward you."

"Finally to you, Mr. (Jared) Loughner. I hold no hatred for you, but I am very angry and sick at heart about what you have done, and the hurt you have caused all of us," Barber said. "You now must bear this burden and never again see the outside of a prison."

[Updated at 12:59 p.m.] Giffords has returned to the courtroom, as Rep. Barber continues testifying.

[Updated at 12:58 p.m.] U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, who was elected in June to replace his former boss Giffords, testifies: "Mr. Loughner, this is only the third time I have seen you," adding that the last time was the hearing earlier this year in which Loughner pleaded guilty.

"The first was on that fateful morning, January 8, 2011," Barber said.

"On that day, your violent actions took the lives of six wonderful people and wounded 13 more. That was a day that shocked our community," Barber said.

"We are thankful (Giffords) survived your attempt to take her life. You did not take away her compassion and desire to serve. ... In fact the whole world knows … of this great leader. She remains the model of bipartisanship and political courage," Barber said.

[Updated at 12:55 p.m.] Pamela Simon testifies: "We have all come here today seeking something ... resolution, closure. ... I came to the courtroom today seeking peace. Not just for today but for the days ahead."

"I decided adding anger to the burden will do no good. I find peace and closure in meaningful positive action and in forgiveness," she said.

[Updated at 12:50 p.m.] Mavy Stoddard, the wife of Dorwan Stoddard, who died in the shooting, continues to testify: "I am so lonesome. ... I hate living without (Dorwan). No one to hold me, no one to love me, no one to talk to, no one to care."

She tells Loughner that she's been praying about the situation for a year, and that she forgives him. As a Christian, she is required to, she says.

[Updated at 12:48 p.m.] Mavy Stoddard, the wife of Dorwan Stoddard, who died in the shooting, testifies: "When you shot my precious husband Dorwan Stoddard, you ruined my life."

Mavy Stoddard attended the Tucson event with her husband.

"Somehow, when you shot him, I got out from under him. ... I was screaming, 'Oh God, oh God, help me,'" she said.

"I said to him, 'Breathe deeply,' and he did. Therefore, I believe that he heard me say, 'I love you.'"

He died in her arms about 10 minutes later, she said. "Then I passed out because you had shot me three times. ... You took away my life my love my reason for living," she said.

[Updated at 12:42 p.m.] Mary Reed, who had taken her daughter a former page for Giffords in Washington to the Tucson event, was shot in the arm that day. She testifies: "My children were forever remember the moments of people when they died, the smell of blood everywhere."

"Mr. Loughner introduced my children to something sinister and evil."

[Updated at 12:38 p.m.] Another victim, Susan Heilman, has testified: “You pointed a weapon at me and shot me.”

Over last several months, she said, “I wanted to take you by the shoulders and shake you and scream at you.”

“I don’t want to be standing here ... It’s an awful situation," she said, and then, looking at Loughner, added, “and it’s all because of you.”

Heilman was the woman who had brought her 9-year-old neighbor, Christina Taylor Green, to the Tucson meet-and-greet. The girl was killed in the shooting.

The event “was an opportunity to witness democracy in action," Heilman said, adding that while most brought family and friends to the event, “you brought a gun.”

[Updated at 12:25 p.m.] Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has left the courtroom with the help of aids. We are not sure why.

[Updated at 12:18 p.m.] One victim, Patricia Maisch, is now testifying about her experience during the shooting.

That day "our mental health system failed us," she said.

And she answers the question of  whether today's sentence may help her move forward very simply.

"I will not get closure," she said.

While Loughner did kill six people, Maisch said they will live on in the hearts of their loved ones

"Jared took their lives, their bodies, but he will not take their spirit," she said.

[Updated at 12:16 p.m. ET] The judge has ruled Loughner competent to be sentenced. The defense said they had nothing to add. Loughner's  attorney says he won’t make a statement.

The judge checks with Loughner who says: "That is true."

So now we know. We won't be hearing from the man who shot Giffords, killed six and wounded a dozen others.

[Updated at 12:11 p.m. ET] Dr. Christina Pietz sees Loughner in prison "almost every day." Pietz testified that he is competent and understands proceedings.

Her testimony is completed and she is excused from the witness stand.

[Updated at 12:08 p.m. ET] Dr. Christina Pietz, the Bureau of Prisons psychologist, has been sworn in. She is testifying about Loughner’s mental competency.

[Updated at 12:05 p.m. ET] The judge is now seated in the courtroom. Loughner has walked in and looks sullen. His hair is growing out and he's no longer bald, CNN's Casey Wian reports.

[Updated at 11:36 a.m. ET] At least 10 victims of the Tucson shooting are in court for Loughner's sentencing, a court official told CNN's Casey Wian.

Gabby Giffords is sitting in the second row of a packed courtroom and next to her husband Mark Kelly. Giffords, wearing a teal top and black slacks, is sitting quietly, expressionless and hugging well-wishers.

[Updated at 11:11 a.m. ET] Now we will wait to find out what victims will say in court or if Loughner will speak. Until we find out more there is one thing we can do: remember those who were injured or killed in the shooting in Tucson, Arizona.

Even though a life sentence will not take away the pain of what loved ones lost, perhaps today can be the beginning of some small amount of closure for them.

[Updated at 10:58 a.m. ET] There's extra security at Loughner's sentencing, CNN's Casey Wian reports. There are metal detectors in the lobby and outside courtroom and a bomb-sniffing dog.

[Updated at 10:53 a.m. ET] Tucson shooting victims and family members are entering courthouse for Loughner's sentencing.

[Posted at 10:52 a.m. ET] Federal prosecutors have said Jared Loughner will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the January 2011 shooting, which killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Giffords.

Giffords stepped down from her position in Congress in January 2012 to focus on her recovery and has since regained the ability to speak and walk, though her right side remains weak.

Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, plan to appear in court for the first time in the case, a source close to Giffords said, adding Kelly plans to speak on behalf of the family.

As part of a plea deal with the government, Loughner, 24, pleaded guilty in August to 19 charges in exchange for the sentence to avoid facing the death penalty.

Loughner had been facing more than 50 federal charges, and the remaining offenses were dropped in exchange for the guilty pleas if Loughner is sentenced within the terms of the plea agreement, according to a written agreement filed in court.

Prosecutors agreed to the plea deal after taking into account Loughner's history of mental illness and the views of victims and their families. The judge in August ruled Loughner competent to stand trial.

Kelly said after the plea deal that he and his wife were satisfied with the agreement.

Read more:

Giffords leads crowd in pledge at vigil marking 1 year since shooting

Giffords shooting survivors seek federal help in tightening gun laws

Warning signs of violence: What to do

soundoff (464 Responses)
  1. bsc1216

    They could use this guy in the White House..!! He could be Obama's Aid..!!

    November 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Yankee Patriot

    This piece of dirt should hang, not rot while we pay for his meals and prison Ph.d. America, get some balls and do what The People Want!!!!!

    November 8, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • cedar rapids

      "America, get some balls and do what The People Want!!!!!"

      The people that had a say said they didnt want the death penalty.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hogan's Goat

      I keep hearing people say that he'll be living well in prison, and I can't believe they are so gullible. Visit a prison some day, and next go visit an asylum for the criminally insane. Ask about the food; it's baloney for lunch. The entertainment is a shared tv and Bubba has the remote.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. steve

    i think a question we need to ask ourselves is do we believe in punishing someone who is clearly insane or do we treat them as ill? If someone is insane, they clearly did not commit a crime since they have no capacity to understand or control their actions. I'd like to hear what people think.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Don Stucky

    Please remove this creep's photo from your site. Sow us how gabby's doing.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill

      Yes...please!!

      November 8, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • mantan073

      Ditto... I get the creeps every time I see Jared photo. and I also feel rage like I just want to put my hands around his neck until his head pops off.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Randy Johnson

      Yeah -that would be a great idea- I'm sick of looking at that same creepy picture

      November 8, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      What you are seeing is someone who is very ill. Perhaps you should consider that before talking about taking retribution on him.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • fsjunkie

      Not sure what prison this guy is going to, but it would be great if he and the Colorado Batman gunman can share a cell. Since they're both not criminally insane, they should get along well "not being insane" together.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SideOfBacon

    and Sandusky got only 30-60 for wounding (multiple times) at least 10... our judicial system is a joke. glad this guy got what he got, but the inconsistencies really make me question the quality of our courts and judges.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. liberal disease

    another tab the tax payers have to pick up!

    November 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • adinfinitum7

      Yes. Good thing you won't have to pay anything.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. asdrel

    That is one of the most juvenile, ridiculous comments I have seen in a while. Unless you are actually commenting on the content of an article maybe you should save your nasty comments for yourself.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. eli

    i understand his actions were monstrous, but the man is mentally ill ... why so much hatred for him? do people not believe that mental illness is a real thing? save your vitriol for wayne lapierre, the butchers at the NRA, and congress ...

    November 8, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill

      "Butchers at the NRA"??? Names please.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. barfly

    im nailing his sister

    November 8, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Cambridge Ray

    How long will Sarah Palin, Jan Brewer, Russell Pearce and Joe Arpaio get? They are co-responsible.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cactusguy

      Blaming Bewer for this is wrong. Do you want a completely safe society? There are a lot of authoritarian countries overseas that will welcome your docility.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dark Poet

      I love how people still are going on about how this is "Palin" "NRA" ects fault. If you believe this then you need to put this tin foil hat on!

      For starters,

      He was a left wing extremist. His friends described him as a far left wing nutcase. He had been threatening Gabby for 4 years before acting.. now lets think about that.. the Tea Party came AFTER he sent her his first death threat. He talked about killing her back in 2007! 2007! When was the tea party formed? Well after 2007...

      So stop saying "This was a republican agenda" this was RUSH, BECK, PALIN... it isn't. If you still believe that either RESEARCH the FACTS about this case or just hang yourself due to your ignorance. The world is better off without people like you!

      November 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Briana

    this sentence is just plain wrong. He was mentally ill and did not know better and no did anything to help him so know he gets to spend life in prison for something he did not know right or wrong about- I hope everyone that is happy with this is right for him has to spend a day in his shoes with his mental illness – which no one is educated about – this world is full of uneducated people maybe he would have had a chance if someone gave him one- God Bless the victims but this tragedy will happen again without knowledge and education-

    November 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • cedar rapids

      Sorry Briana but I disagree.
      While I have no doubt he is mentally ill you have to ask what form his insanity manifests in. Did he not know it was wrong or did he know it was wrong and just not care? If it was the later then the sentence is justified, if it was the former then he needs to be detained in a hospital for the safety of the public.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. drew

    I know what he did was wrong, and it isn't the way to make things change. And that he was also mentally ill, but I can almost understand his frustration. We elect politicians to represent us, and get fooled by false promises or straight up lies during their campaign. Then after we give them our vote and trust, they immediately betray us. I'm not saying she had it coming to her, but if the politics in this country don't change soon, this will be a much more common occurrence.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. anon

    Heyyy, how about some real news... You know those Syrian Rebels that Obama supports? Yeah, they just gunned down some Palestinians. Wooo, Gotta love Obama the murder supports. Have fun with your Criminal POTUS.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. steve

    How do you execute or put in prison someone who had no capacity to ether understand or control their action?

    November 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • adinfinitum7

      He was found by a shrink to know right from wrong. But that's why he did not get the death penalty.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susanata

      Open the door, put him in, close the door and throw away the key.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dark Poet

    I love how people still are going on about how this is "Palin" "NRA" ects fault. If you believe this then you need to put this tin foil hat on!

    For starters,

    He was a left wing extremist. His friends described him as a far left wing nutcase. He had been threatening Gabby for 4 years before acting.. now lets think about that.. the Tea Party came AFTER he sent her his first death threat. He talked about killing her back in 2007! 2007! When was the tea party formed? Well after 2007...

    So stop saying "This was a republican agenda" this was RUSH, BECK, PALIN... it isn't. If you still believe that either RESEARCH the FACTS about this case or just hang yourself due to your ignorance. The world is better off without people like you!

    November 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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