Arizona gunman pleads guilty to mass shooting
MOSCOW, August 8 - RAPSI. Jared Loughner pleaded guilty Tuesday to having carried out a mass shooting that left six dead and 13 injured, including US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, at a community event in Tuscon, Arizona last year. In exchange for his guilty plea, the prosecution offered a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, thus - for their part - taking the death penalty off the table, according to a release issued by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).
On January 8, 2011, Congresswoman Giffords was hosting federally funded community event “Congress on your Corner,” in front of a Safeway supermarket in Tuscon, Arizona. Loughner arrived at the event armed with a fully loaded semi-automatic Glock pistol and three additional magazines of ammunition. Shortly after arriving, he opened fire on the crowd, shooting Congresswoman Giffords, killing two federal employees and four attendees of the event, and injuring an additional two federal employees and ten attendees.
As Loughner pleaded guilty to all of the above, the prosecution is seeking seven life sentences, followed by 140 years in prison. One life sentence is being sought for each of the six murders, as well as one for the attempted murder of a US congresswoman. Twenty years are being sought for the murders of both federal employees. Ten years are being sought for each injury incurred by way of Loughner’s Glock.
The DOJ release laid out the sentencing guidelines for each of the above charges. According to the guidelines, the prosecution opted for the strongest possible sentences in all cases except for the six murders. For each of those, the prosecution could have sought the death penalty.
US Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the decision not to seek capital punishment, stating: “In making the determination not to seek the death penalty, I took into consideration the views of the victims and survivor families, the recommendations of the prosecutors assigned to the case, and the applicable law.” With regard to the sentence established by the plea agreement, he explained, “Given the defendant’s history of significant mental illness, this plea agreement, which requires the defendant to spend the remainder of his natural life in prison, with no possibility of parole, is a just and appropriate resolution of this case.”
A sentencing hearing is set for November 15, 2012. Ultimately it will be within the judge’s discretion to hand down Loughner’s sentence in accordance with the relevant sentencing guildelines.