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. Jill Traveler

    Wish that you would not display the photo of that sick, smiling idiot, who committed this atrocity. It must make him smile when the news media shows his face on a website that can be seen internationally.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sunny D

      I couldn't agree more, Jill Traveler. I'd rather see pictures of the victims and survivors than this monster. He wants publicity. Don't give it to him.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ariz2cali

    It would be nice if you spelled Tucson correctly.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Steve

    Everyone calling for this guys head is failing to realize that he is not the only one responsible. This guy is schizophrenic and during the shooting was cognitively incapable of understanding reality. There were many warning signs that this kid was severely mentally disturbed, yet no action was taken to prevent this from happening. There are many people responsible. The lack of understanding of mental illness in this country is astounding and evident even in many of these comments.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Teri Harrison

      Thank you Steve for pointing out Jared's untreated mental illness. Had Jared been treated for his mental illness perhaps the crime wouldn't have occurred. EVERY person with a mental illness should receive treatment. Let's reduce the stigma and mental illness and remember Jared is suffering horribly with his mental illness.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • fiftyfive55

      How can you say we dont treat mental illness right,they just re-elected Jesse Jackson Jr. and the only public appearance away from the Mayo clinic he made was to go drinking with some honeys in D.C.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • fiftyfive55

      @name s kel- not a bigot,just telling the truth,cant ya handle it ?

      November 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joan

      Thank you for pointing out his mental illness. I agonize every time I hear one of these tragic stories. My son has schizophrenia. It's a terrible disease. I have no answers to the suffering. I wish all involved some peace, some closure, some healing.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      We are not allowed to lock them up anymore, Steve. It might violate their right to kill people!

      November 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Teri Harrison

    Jared is mentally ill. Severly mentally ill. He does have to pay for his crimes and will with the sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. I hope he receives his medications to keep his mental illness under control.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Dan Britten

    Why do you continue to display this maniac's photo? It just encourages other idiots to commit extreme acts of violence in order to gain notoriety. Ultimately, all they want is attention. Good job – you're granting their wish.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Tina

    Please stop showing his picture. It gives him undeserved attention and others will want to be like him.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Profit

    Tie his hands and feet, put a burlap bag with two feral cats in it over his head and tie it closed. Walk away and never have to worry about him again.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. rbnlegend101

    Oh look, a troll.
    Get a grip. The NRA calls for harsh penalties for people who use a gun in the comission of a crime. The anti-gun lobby says that punishing the people who have comitted crimes is not as important as trying to ensure that the people who have not comitted crimes are prohibited from getting guns.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Andrew

      In the Trayvon Martin case, they supported the killer.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dude

      Crazy people don't need access to a lot of things – guns, cars, trucks, fertilizer, diesel fuel, nails, and common household cleaners. As a society, we need to do a better job of identifying the mentally ill and getting them help and more importantly getting them accounted for the national instant background check system.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brave words

      Hear, hear.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • stepk

      Talk about trolls. Most people who advocate gun control really just want to close the loopholes that allow people like this monster to get guns. Why shoudln't there be waiting periods, better records of where guns are sold, etc? Gun control is not about abridging the 2nd amendment it is about reducing the number of people who from getting that gun, when they shouldn't.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name s kel

      I hope you dont own any weapons stepk. If you do you should not anymore.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • inmywords20

      The NRA calls for harsh penalties and their members are selling guns to people without background checks.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harry

      There's money to be made. Look at the Court costs accrued and paid out already. They need criminals and it would make no sense, fiscally, to dispatch them.

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

      Wow, I've never found it difficult to purchase a gun or ammunition. It's harder to vote.

      November 9, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • oliver

      Can you site the source of that quote for us, or even the passage from which your paraphrasing? I've never found it hard to purchase firearms or ammunition.

      It's harder to vote.

      November 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rick

    OK...I guess it was just confusing. My bad.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. mojobutta

    The man is a psycho. What can you do? Hang him and move on.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    When hate takes over, this is exactly what it looks like.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kathy S

      This man is a schizophrenic. He hears voices and has delusions. He probably does not even fully comprehend what he did. Show some compassion.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. fiftyfive55

    2shingoEx-I think it's you who doesn't realize the jab he took at the NRA,it wasn't all satire,i d i o t

    November 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. hardnwet4u

    Yeah, this guy gives Uncle Fester a bad name...

    November 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Foreverwar

    His creepy Glenn Beck smile gives me chills.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. rexdogcanadien

    Andy, get a hold of your jaded opinion. The world needs to see what insanity looks like. What caused this man to do what he did should inform us all about how difficult it is to detect mental illness.

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

      If we label as "mentally ill" everyone who commits a crime that the rest of us find impossible to comprehend, then everyone who commits an intentional killing is "mentally ill." Truly sane people who are in control of themselves don't kill other people. This guy is not "mentally ill" any more than many others who commit similar crimes. He should receive capital punishment, and we the taxpayers should be rid of him from our justice/penal system.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name

      Thank you I couldn't have said it better myself

      November 8, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      high fructose corn syrup called him and told him to do it

      November 8, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • nostrildamus

      He was known to be mentally ill. What was not known is how far he would go. This is another case (like Va. Tech) where an individual's right to privacy exceeded public safety and other people's right to live.

      Yet the TSA gets to subject us to invasive searches for having the audacity to try to fly from Cleveland to Charlotte.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
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