Jared Loughner Pleads Guilty To AZ Shootings

3:38 PM, Aug 7, 2012   |    comments
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Jared Loughner, who fatally shot six people and wounded former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others in Tucson last year, has pleaded guilty under a deal that will send him to prison for life.

The Arizona Republic is tweeting from Loughner's competency hearing:

Update at 4:18 p.m. ET: Having found Loughner competent, the judge accepted his guilty plea to 19 counts, with no appeal possible.

Loughner will be formally sentenced Nov. 15 to life in prison.

Update at 3:30 p.m. ET: Judge Larry Burns is reading the 19 counts of Lougher's guilty plea, including attempted assassination, first-degree murder of two federal employees and attempted murder of two federal employees.

The prosecution has agreed to not seek the death penalty.

Update at 3:25 p.m. ET: Loughner has signed the plea agreement. He tells the judge, under oath, that he understands everything in it.

Update at 3:19 p.m. ET: Pietz says Loughner "is severely mentally ill, one of the worst I've treated. But I believe he can function in the general population."

Update at 3:11 p.m. ET: "Does the medication... interfere" with ability to make choice of entering guilty plea? Judge asks Pietz. She responds that medication helps Loughner make choices.

Update at 3:07 p.m.: Pietz again concludes that Loughner is competent. Defense attorney Judy Clark says she has no questions for Pietz. Judge Burns asking Pietz some questions.

Update at 2:59 pm ET: "My concern is someone will harm him" if he is placed in a prison's general population, Pietz says. But she says he does understand the proceedings, and that he understands he must spend the rest of his life in prison.

Update at 2:55 pm ET: Pietz says Loughner is now able to orient time and place, and no longer shows signs he's hearing voices.

Update at 2:50 pm ET: Pietz testifies that Loughner "loves" the two jobs he works in prison. He stamps return addresses on envelopes and rolls laundry to be distributed to inmates.

Update at 2:40 p.m. ET: Pietz says Loughner has a rational understanding of the role of the prosecutor, judge and jury in judicial proceedings. She also says Loughner was shocked that then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head, survived.

Update at 2:26 pm ET: Pietz says medication appears to be working because Loughner has said he feels badly about what he did. She says he has cried and apologized. "He has become human," she says.

Update at 2:12 pm ET: The hearing is underway. The Republic reports that forensic psychologist Christina Pietz is testifying that Loughner is competent to stand trial -- or make a plea decision. She says Loughner has shown signs of depression and schizophrenia since 2006.

Original post: Federal Judge Larry Burns first must determine whether Loughner, 23, who has been diagnosed as schizophrenic, understands what is happening. Loughner's prison psychologist, Christina Pietz, is expected to testify for about half an hour, the Republic reports.

If Loughner is found competent, the judge will consider a change of plea from not guilty to guilty in exchange for a sentence of life in prison, the newspaper says.

Also today, Mark Kelly said in a statement that he and his wife, former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, are satisfied with the proposed plea agreement.

"The pain and loss caused by the events of January 8, 2011 are incalculable," said Kelly, who will not be attending Tuesday's hearing with his wife. "Avoiding a trial will allow us -- and we hope the whole Southern Arizona community -- to continue with our recovery and moved forward with our lives."

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