By: Lauren Saccone
Tucson shooter Jared Loughner has pled guilty to killing six people and injuring 13 others. In January 2011, Loughner went on a shooting rampage at a political gathering outside a grocery store in Tucson, Arizona. Among those injured was former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who received a gunshot wound to the head.
Loughner’s guilty plea comes after months of therapy and forced medication. Diagnosed as schizophrenic, Loughner was not being treated at the time of the shooting. Court psychologists needed to medicate and work with him for Loughner to become competent enough to understand what he had done, and the charges being levied against him.
Many remarked on Loughner’s different demeanor from when he first appeared on television last year. Quiet, calm, and subdued, the 23-year-old appeared aware of his surroundings thanks to intensive therapy and medication. Loughner told the judge he understand the charges and was willing to confess his guilt to all 19 counts of murder and attempted murder.
“He’s a different person in his appearance and his affect than the first time I laid eyes on him,” said Judge Larry Burns to reporters. Burns accepted the plea agreement without issue and believes it will be best for all involved in the tragic situation.
Loughner has agreed to spend the rest of his life in prison rather than go to trial and potentially face the death penalty. This plea deal has come as a relief not only to his family, but to many of the victims and prosecution.
“The pain and loss caused by the events of January 8, 2011, are incalculable,” said Giffords in a joint statement with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly. “Avoiding a trial will allow us – and we hope the whole Southern Arizona Community – to continue with our recovery.”
The agreement requires 7 life sentences, plus an additional 140 years in prison. Loughner will not be eligible for parole.
[Pic via Flickr - Mike Nelson]