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. Kenny

    What???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    November 8, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. HornetDriver

    While I'm happy that he doesn't have the chance for parole, a good old fashioned firing squad would still be the best option. It would save the taxpayers millions of dollars over the next 40 years, and then there would be true justice. I rather think it unjust for him to have better living conditions than many honest law abiding American citizens have.

    November 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. INFOWARSDOTCOM

    FALSE FLAG!!!

    November 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. allenwoll

    This thread shows how weird and mixed-up people have become !

    Prison is a far, FAR worse punishment than a nice clean execution ! !

    I any event, Red-Handers should be executed within 30 days of their crime ! ! !

    November 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Lord Toronaga

    The wooden headed left keeps bring up the link between having a gun and the NRA. The left always says the right doesn't go to college so I say the killer must be a liberal democrat.

    November 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. 2/8

    Good ol' United States commentary, always wanting blood for blood. No wonder your country's in the crapper, all you guys ever do is talk about killing.....and act on it. If people aren't shooting eachother they're talking about legally sanctioned murder. You guys really need to grow up.

    November 8, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • mizh

      Just who are "you guys" you keep spouting off about?

      November 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. CommonSensed

    Alas – I'll save taxpayers the trouble and pop a cap in him. He deserves nothing less.

    November 8, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kevin

      Thank you :D

      November 8, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • SwampHokie

      I agree. Why give this miserable excuse for a human a life when he ended so many. Kill him (slowly works for me) and spare us from paying for his upkeep.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dot8

    Our justice system broke down again ... this evil person should be executed firing squad style immediately!

    November 8, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • steve

      why? he was insane, meaning he had no understanding of his actions or ability to control them.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      They don't want him dead. They want to drain you of your will, and keep the evil menace. And by not killing him they empower him and them and un-power you. If they started executing these people, the other people will start asking questions about life and death, They don't want this... who is they? An evil so evil it can almost seem as if it shapeshifts. They won't execute so long as people go to work and feed them.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • CommonSensed

      @Steve – he was shown to be functional and fully cognizant of his actions. The insanity deal is his cowardly way to continue living. Fooled the system and is now a drain on it. We gain nothing for having him still alive. Tell you what – you feel so strongly about him being allowed to live how about we specifically garnish your wages and have them offset his bill for being in prison. Just let us know...

      November 8, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. I'm just saying

    Iin the end he is a coward. Like so many before him; willing to kill innocents but afraid to die himself. Rot in prison and spend all your days dreaming of what you could have been, instead of what you became-a pathetic little coward. Gun control is not the problem-hate and ignorance is.

    November 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • CommonSensed

      He does not deserve the air he breathes much less the tax payer money necessary to keep him alive until he rots. This is a no-questions-smoking-gun-in-hand situation.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. average joe

    Stop talking about GABBY what about the "OTHERS"!!????

    November 8, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • CommonSensed

      True – many tragedies, not just one.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. rabs

    i dont get it. if the proof is irrefutable, why not put him to death and save everyone the expense?

    November 8, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • steve

      because he is insane.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Victor

    Are they serious not even the death penalty, wasnt this in texas where they even killed that man with mental disabilities.
    what a country

    November 8, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Mark

    as atheism takes hold in the United States I predict within 50 years there will more executions.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • CommonSensed

      So long as they are to execute animals like this, so much the better.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Emigdio Alvarez

    time to focus on something else, like the Aurora Shooter.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. anonymous

    He deserves Prison but deserves Execution by Electrocution even more.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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