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. Vince

    Give the father of the 9 year old girl a baseball bat and put this piece of fecal matter in a room with him for 5 minutes.

    November 8, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jerry

    Better yet @Vince let the comedian "Gallagher" come in with his SLEDGE O MATIC

    November 8, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. LostinSLC

    Some people can never be out in society....he should have never been.

    November 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pete

    What does the perpetrator need closure about? And furthermore, who cares about his closure?

    November 8, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mark

    This POS needs to be executed. Period. I'd hold a lottery for the victims to see which one got to pull the trigger.

    November 8, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Mallet

      Please stop wasting our tax dollars on criminals that spend the rest of there life in prison. The system needs to figure out a way to get these worthless people off of my medical insurance policy. Tax dollars going to waste.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • John L. Walker

      Tiny little problem with the lottery idea mark...........How can the "6 DEAD" victims have a chance at the lottery???

      November 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom2591

      Don't waste a bullet; you can always reuse a rope.
      I've always been a proponent of public hangings. Will make the next nut-job think twice . . . .

      November 9, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ted Baxter

    Gabrielle Giffords personified everything that CAN be good in politics and politicians. I mourn the loss of her ability to provide leadership our country desperately needs.

    November 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DC

    He's broken. Send him back to his maker.

    November 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. james

    Life in solitary is better than death...every minute of every day to just sit and think about it !

    November 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Peter

    Oh man, does that guy's picture give me the creeps.

    November 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • bgg1175

      He looks like a deranged p enis just looking at you with a sickening smile.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • eric

      I think that's the idea.
      Do you realize why he looks like a schizophrenic lunatic? No, it isn't because he IS one. It's because he shaved off his eyebrows. Why would you do that? Because it makes you look crazy. He did it so that everyone who saw his face would say, "you can tell by looking at him that he's insane". He's not insane. He knew exactly what he was doing, from the killings all the way down to the minute detail of shaving off his eyebrows.
      His mental illness is all a hoax, and he's keeping his life because everybody, including the victims, fell for it.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. athiestbob

    its only strike one....let him go... the prisons are overcrowded anywayt

    November 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Troy

    We have ourselves to blame for this crime. We've made and ratified the laws time and time again that allow anyone, with or without a brain or conscience, to get a gun and do what this man did. Our right to bear arms in this country comes with a great price: the human lives or our friends, family and neighbors that can get snuffed out in a blink of an eye by a gun. If we love our guns so much, why don't we put them in the hands ot two year old children and load them in advance. Why don't we make a law that forces all the chimpanzees of the world to carry handguns too. Wake up America!

    November 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • steven

      the chips of the jungle are already carrying them and buying even more everyday....they use their guns to pick the feas from their hide..

      November 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. LUIS A

    I do not know what the hell it means: I forgive you

    November 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bgg1175

    When a shooter killed Dimebag Darrell onstage I was glad the shooter was killed also. It spared us from seeing his face and hearing his story.
    Unfortunately this guy and the Aurora shooter survived. If these guys were killed on the spot it would spare a lot of people more grief.
    There should be an unwritten, unspoken rule that when someone does this stuff they die-on the spot. No arrest,No trial, just on the spot justice.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick Shultz

      I agree dude, but that's WAY too sensible. You'll never get these bleeding hearts who oppose the death penalty to go along with it. They'd rather we spend our money to keep these hydrocephalic loonies alive.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • larry

      on the spot justice could be very gruesome. i tell you. If it was in Nigeria, they prolly will put a tire around his neck and set him ablze on the spot. i have seen it happen. not a good sight.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mantan073

    I pray everyday that justice is done and this guy never sees freedom again. Lock him up and throw that key away.... My only wish that I had is I wished there was at least one police officer there. Then that sweet little girl would be alive today.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Naota

    Hasan shot 45 people at Ft Hood.

    CNN reported the story for 3 days and then tried to bury it.

    They've never followed up with how the victims are doing.

    Why is that . . liberals???

    November 8, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • G

      CNN did cover it for more than three days, this was a MAJOR news story.

      The living victims, as far as I know, have not had their names publicly released (military!) and apparently a large number of them are still active servicemen. The military didn't publicize too much of the story for fear that it would interfere with military court proceedings. Maybe we should blame the military for the lack of coverage, huh?

      November 8, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      What the hell are you talking about?

      Story was covered right away. "Three days"? Was breaking news within the hour. Then followed up over several days with several reports.

      Oh, and of course, you gotta hint that it is some "lib" conspiracy.

      You partisan whack jobs sunk Romney. Isn't your work done?

      November 8, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • JillMay

      Are you trying to justify this killing?

      November 8, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • fiftyfive55

      They still don't talk about how in the world illegal aliens get into our military,let alone talk about a terrorist they ignored for fear of offending someone,now explain this to those families of the folks who were shot.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Noneofyobusiness

      Comparing deaths Naota, really classy.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Naota – Clearly, you learned nothing from this man's behavior. "Libs"? Wise up and grow up.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick in Wisconsin

      Just go home. Your St. Mitt Romney lost at his fault alone, not the media's. Get over it.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Why such an ignorant post, nutter?

      November 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      55 and Naota...English language, coherency, relevance. Just keep working hard in those three areas, then not all posts will be agenda-filled and nonsensical streams of consciousness completely irrelevant to the story to which they are posted.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
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