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Tucson gunman pleads guilty to mass shooting, assassination attempt

By Associated Press


TUCSON, Ariz. >> Jared Lee Loughner agreed today to spend the rest of his life in prison, accepting that he went on a deadly shooting rampage at an Arizona political gathering and avoiding the prospect of a trial that might have brought him the death penalty.

His plea came after a federal judge found that months of psychiatric treatment made Loughner able to understand charges that he killed six people and wounded 13 others, including his intended target, then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Loughner appeared relaxed and focused throughout the two-hour hearing, much of it devoted to a court-appointed psychologist’s account of his normal childhood, his teenage depression, his descent into schizophrenia as a young adult and his gradual recovery in prison to the point that she felt he was competent to face charges.

The psychologist and judge did most of the talking, as Loughner looked at them intently and leaned slightly forward with no expression, his arms crossed over his chest. He appeared to show emotion only once — smiling and nodding when the psychologist, Christina Pietz, reported that he formed a special bond with one of the guards at the Springfield, Mo., prison where he has been held. 

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns noted Loughner’s reaction to the prison guard comment when explaining his decision to declare him competent. He said Loughner was “tracking” the day’s proceedings well and appeared to be assisting his attorneys in his defense, a break from the past.

“He’s a different person in his appearance and his affect than the first time I laid eyes on him,” Burns said.

During the hearing, Loughner didn’t exchange words with his attorneys or glance around the courtroom, which was packed with victims. His parents, who observed from a back row, sobbed and embraced after he walked out looking frail on his feet and gazing straight ahead.

Loughner pleaded guilty to 19 counts, including attempted assassination of a member of Congress, murder and attempted murder of federal employees, and causing death and injury at a federally provided activity. As part of the agreement, the federal government dropped 30 other counts. 

“I plead guilty,” Loughner said repeatedly in a baritone voice as Burns listed each count.

His hair closely cropped, Loughner was not the smiling, bald-headed suspect captured in a mug shot soon after the January 2011 shooting. His demeanor was a complete turnaround from a May 2011 courtroom outburst that prompted Burns to declare him incompetent. 

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rayhawaii wrote:
If I were shot by some coocoohead or non coocoohead I think the only way I would be satisfied is by having the guy stand on a football field with no exits and give him a chance to run all over the field dodging my bullets while I shot at him. Make it more fun is to have a duel with loaded pistols.
on August 7,2012 | 04:59AM
Manapua_Man wrote:
!!?? No death penalty in this case? Just an acknowledgement and apology would do? Then I guess the plan should be to see that "life in prison" is a "short life" for this guy.
on August 7,2012 | 06:38AM
RichardCory wrote:
The article says nothing about an apology, just that he plead guilty. And the death penalty is such a boring punishment, if you can call it a punishment at all. Someone does terrible, terrible things to people and all you want to do is put him to sleep? Okay, sure. I could think of a lot worse things that could happen to someone in prison, so I'd gladly take a death sentence over a life sentence any day.
on August 7,2012 | 07:10AM
hilopango wrote:
Someone who commits so heinous a crime should not have the pleasure of living off of the taxpayer's dollar for the rest of his life.
on August 7,2012 | 09:50AM
RichardCory wrote:
As if there's any pleasure in being a dog of the State.
on August 7,2012 | 11:03AM
Manapua_Man wrote:
I don't know if I'd call the death penalty "boring". If you knew that you only had a few hours to live before getting your lethal shot, wouldn't you be the least bit anxious? But yeah, anyone who kills innocent US citizens is a coward and a traitor to this country and should be shown no mercy.
on August 7,2012 | 02:45PM
kainalu wrote:
If punishment is the reason, then he should be imprisoned for life. Death is hardly punishment for ignorants like this.
on August 7,2012 | 10:11AM
Manapua_Man wrote:
Prevention is the other reason. We need to make sure this traitor does not get let out to harm more people. I'm in favor of making executions public to show what happens to those who betray the country by harming innocent US Citizens.
on August 7,2012 | 02:52PM
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