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. liberal disease

    OBAMA SHOULD SEND A DRONE AFTER THIS GUY ON NATIONAL TV

    November 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Obozo

      Ya right, Obama would send this guy flowers and a free obamaphone. Obama is a COWARD!

      November 8, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • LR

      commonsensed... don't bother feeding a troll who calls him(her)self"obozo" and talks about "obamaphones". They obviously have the IQ of a turnip. Probably just mad that Obama won. You seem way too smart to bait dumbdumbs like this. Peace.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Visara

    That's great. Just in case this guy dies in prison and is resurrected six times, he'll STILL have 140 years left to serve. Are you serious? Just give the monster the death penalty!

    November 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. ron

    Oh joy. Now we get to pay for him for the rest of his life. He should have got the death penalty. Then we only have to pay for him for 30 years.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Phyl

      I agree...why should we have to keep him for the rest of his life??!! If he is guilty, get rid of him....

      November 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hass

    wow he still lives.....so sad.. he murderd six people, six people they had to buried and a little girl as well
    wow...wow he still makes the news...

    November 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Mike

    If you have to be locked up for the rest of your life in prison because you can't behave in society then you shouldn't be sucking air on this planet. Why should the taxpayers have to support you.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. WVLady63

    Great, now he can get three meals a day, free medical, free dental, free eyeglasses and our tax dollars will keep him alive for what the next forty years? WHY didn't he get the chair? WHY didn't he get lethal injection? It is a travesty that our judicial system is soft on murderers.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • CommonSensed

      Plea bargin. And now we get to foot the bill. There are just some cases where a bad guy should move to the head of the execution line and this one is a prime example.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. marc

    Why life in prison for this thing why not just put him down he should be on death row period.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. kate

    The sad thing is that with that nose he's just not going to get a lot of boy friends in the slammer.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Izoto

    Does not deserve to live.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • veggiedude

      This is a just sentence. Life in jail is the ultimate punishment. For those who think the death sentence is, you are misguided. It only works one time. This works 365 days year, year after year after year...

      November 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Smarter than ewe

    The country could save a lot of money putting this guy in with the general population.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave

      Yeah and we could save even more just by putting him to death, think about it. We have to pay year after year to keep this animal alive, just get rid of him.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • 4bammy

      Ewe're overlooking the fact he was already put in the population for his purpose by Sara Palin.

      Technically ewe're not thinking when the bag job is as momentous as his was. I think the whole misanthropy bleat is just as deranged a person's cry for help.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John Phillips

    Please take this creep off you homepage. I'm sick of looking at him already.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Tracy

    I want every single internet jerk who has been calling for violence since the election to read this...To read the reality of what they are asking for in their insane self-aggrandizing bluster. The sickness and uselessness of their ideals... And I hope that every internet threat is taken seriously by authorities. If you are serious about changing America, start at home, locally... Make your town a better place to live.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. MikeLinNM

    3 hots and a cot. Roof over his head in a climate controlled cell. Free heath care. Free cable TV. Free gym. Free education to get college degrees – that's where we just put him for the rest of his life. Go America! #fail

    November 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Colleen

    Does not deserve to live at all!!!!
    An eye for an eye!

    November 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • veggiedude

      Death is too easy a way out.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. SinnFeinFun

    The "moron brigade" is out in force today.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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