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. PhillCo24

    Why are prosecutors making deals for someone who is obviously guilty and killed so many people. What's in it for the public. This is exactly the case that should go to trial and have the defendant executed.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • wmesser58

      @PhillCo24–Excellent answer I vote "YES"

      November 8, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • ignitionnight

      The public benefits from not executing him in two ways. The public retains the right of due process, which I particularly value. And secondly the public saves tax money. Due process allows him an appeals process, death penalty is absurdly expensive and costs far more money than a simple life in prison sentence.

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

    I haven't forgot the little girl he killed , she was born on 9/11 .. May he rot in his cell.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Surrender Dorothy

    And your response to the statement "we're done thinking about you" is to AGAIN post this psychotic grinning maniac 's on the front page so we can all THINK ABOUT HIM AGAIN? Seriously?

    November 8, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Carolyn_SanDiego

    CNN – please replace that picture of that evil man. It feeds his ego but offends/creeps out us non-criminals. It means more to me to see a picture of the survivors, moving on.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • 11STI

      Great idea

      November 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. steve

    In my younger years I was against the death penalty but clear cut evil like this doesnt deserve better than their victims, regardless of whether you label them "metally ill" or not. This isnt revenge, this is pure justice. A person is the person that is defined by their actions regardless of what excuse may be used we have to face up to what we've done. I have a hard time saying that we need to extinguish this life in the name of justice realising that it means fighting evil with evil but I would believe the fallen would want it that way, and my feelings are secondary.

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

      Don't lie to yourself, it is revenge not justice. And don't blame the views of the fallen for your position. #1 you didn't know the victims, and #2 their families don't want him to be executed... read the article. They understand the complications of a death sentence, how much more expensive it is than life in prison, and they want closure....

      November 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      When mass murderers are seized while actually in the act during a situation like this... Give them due process & carry out the execution immediately. Their guilt is 100% verifiable, & there are better things to spend money on.
      This is not vengeance.
      This is removing a threat to society without the high cost of appeals, or warehousing them until death.
      Another candidate for this type of execution would be Major Hasan, whose guilt is also 100% verifiable.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MD

    He is the reason we need the death penalty. He should not have been allowed to plea in this case. But I am sure the lawyers are making a fortune.

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

      He was allowed to plea not because the lawyers are making any money, but so taxpayers could save money. It is exponentially more expensive to execute somebody than to keep them in prison for life. Think of the costs for all the court hearings and appeals, those add up quick.... on top of keeping him in prison for the 15-20 years it would take to execute him.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Big_D

    I guess if you mention the people and party who created the disillusions in this guys head you are censored by CNN.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tex71

      Your guess is correct.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Hooligan

    It always amuses me when people use words like "evil" to describe things they don't understand.

    The guy was sick, he needed help that the state could not and would not provide and as such he killed someone.

    Apparently it's more cost efficient to let crazy people wander about until they hurt someone and then blame the persons actions on such stupid abstracts as "evil".

    November 8, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Big_D

    The extreme party, FOX and the people with the initials GB and RL should be on trial for the propaganda they fed this delusional freak.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • scranton

      Your ignorance is only surpassed by your stu pidity.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • sma89

      Even as a moderate, I don't believe you should ever brand an entire party as extreme. You have far right and far left, do not forget that. Branding all Republicans as extreme, or all Democrats as communists or socialists is wrong. You are a part of the problem.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Big_D

    The face of the Tea Party.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Arlenne

    this guy just needs to just died in prison The Giffords are a blessing I'm glad she doing very well. and her husband is standing by her side

    November 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. W.

    A hand drill with a 1/4" bit and a pair of pruning shears and he will be as compliant as a... well, a bowl of jello. Fifteen minutes of creativity and no problems. No need for guards either.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Joshua

    People who commit murder should be executed, regardless of whatever mental processes drive them to do it.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • peter

      Agreed. Killers should not continue to waste tax payer money in jail, living a content life while their victims have to deal with a lifetime of suffering and loss. This man should be executed next week, no drawn out appeal process, no drawn out jail time. Next Thursday.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tex71

    How long was this after Palin had that TV spot with targets on Democrats' names (including Giffords)?

    November 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big_D

      During and she had it on her website until after too.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dean

      You just can't hide stupidity.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ignitionnight

    Fact is, it is exponentially more expensive execute an inmate than it is to keep him in prison for life. Think of the appeals process, the costs for federal trials is absurdly high and he would receive 5 appeals by the time he was executed 10 years later. In that time it would cost more to in tax dollars than just keeping him in prison for 60 years.

    Now you could say that the legal process is broken and that he needs to be executed now, why waste time, efforts and money. I do not want to live in a country where your right to due process is lost, and executing somebody immediately sets a DANGEROUS precedent.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • luvlar

      I agree to a point. Execution right away when there's absolutely positively no doubt of guilt should be acceptable. It is to me and it will save millions. They should off this guy at sunrise.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian Hartman

      I don't want to see due process lost. Let the system take all the time it needs to execute someone, as long as the system gets it right (i.e., the right person). And to me, it's not a matter of money. You want to charge me more on my income tax so that some malevolent monster gets executed, be my guest. It's worth it.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • The great divide

      I agree, we do not want to set this precident... However, once it is learned that nobody forced him into it by, for example having a gun to his mothers head, then, execute quickly and justly. 2 years and done. Everyone saw him do it, tackled him to the ground, have it on camera etc... this is not a crime where pieces had to be put together and solved. It is clear and evident. Same as the theatre shooting. That guy was very bright and if he knew he would have a needle stuck in him in 2 years, I bet he would not have done it.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • smith

      Uh Ignitionnight.... why waste time? Because he ADMITTED IT!! What else is there to do? If someone admits the crime,...then they should get swift justice to the crime they committed. We are so weak in enforcing the law. Why waste everyone's time..judges, lawyers, etc. Kill him. Off my payroll.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • JK

      Good post and I agree with you. Hard not to get emotional when things like this happen and everyone wants immediate justice.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smarter than ewe

      Not if you just put him in the yard at break time. The average shiv is under $5.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • fartbubble

      What is there to appeal? There is no question he killed those people. He's stood trial. He needs to stop breathing and sucking my tax dollars to house and feed his worthless soul.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      We already know he did it. He confessed to doing it. There were plenty of witnesses. A bullet to the head costs less that $1.00. No appeal. No mercy. No last meal.

      It amazes me that the people who were killed weren't given appeal, after appeal, after appeal.....No mercy....and no last meal, yet for some reason we think that we owe these skum of the earth respect and dignity.

      Let's stand up for those who were killed. Put a bullet in this guys head and save millions of dollars along the way.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
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