Loughner Pleads Guilty To Tucson Shootings
As agreed upon in a plea deal, pleading guilty to 19 criminal counts, out of an original 49, prevented prosecutors from seeking the death penalty. Just prior, a federal judge declared Loughner competent to stand trial after undergoing months of treatment for schizophrenia.
From the Associated Press:
"Jared Loughner listened calmly and without expression while a court-appointed psychologist told a judge he was competent to plead guilty to killing six people in a rampage that wounded then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Loughner's arms were crossed over his stomach, and he looked straight at Christina Pietz as she testified for an hour.
At one point he smiled and nodded when psychologist mentioned he had a special bond with one of the prison guards."
Loughner's 19 counts included the murders of U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords' aide Gabe Zimmerman, as well as the attempted murders of Giffords' employees Pam Simon and Ron Barber. Loughner also faced one count for the attempted assassination of Giffords, reported USA Today.
The mental competency of Loughner was an important point in establishing the agreement. The NY Times reported the 23-year-old's outburst in a May courtroom reminded prosecutors of the risks associated with carrying out a full-length trial. Experts said Loughner's extreme temperament could have "exploded" at any moment to disrupt the trial or pushed jurors to declare him not guilty by reason of insanity.
Prior to Loughner's plea, the husband of Giffords said the pair are satisfied with the agreement. In a written statement, astronaut Mark Kelly wrote:
"We don't speak for all of the victims or their families, but Gabby and I are satisfied with this plea agreement. The pain and loss caused by the events of January 8, 2011 are incalculable. Avoiding a trial will allow us -- and we hope the whole Southern Arizona community -- to continue with our recovery and move forward with our lives," wrote Mark Kelly.
According to USA Today, Loughner faces multiple life sentences, in accordance with his plea agreement. Additional requirements included Loughner's forfeit of various weapon ownerships and any future money that may arise out of his story or interview.
Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage on the Loughner trial.
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