Seven Life Sentences For AZ's Mass Killer
was sentenced in Arizona today.
The facts in the case were never in doubt. Loughner was the only suspect. The key issue focused on whether he would avoid the death penalty because of his mental health. After the shooting, Loughner was diagnosed with schizophrenia and underwent forcible psychotropic drug treatments. It was after those treatments that Loughner realized that he had only wounded Giffords, whom he saw as the personification of a government the shooter said he hated, prosecutor Wallace Kleindienst said in his comments to the court. U.S. District Court Judge Larry A. Burns, who presided over the proceedings, had previously ruled that Loughner was capable of understanding the charges against him. This paved the way for a plea agreement designed to ensure that Loughner would spend the rest of his life in prison without possibility of parole. Three months ago, Loughner pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges. The agreement includes the dismissal of 30 other charges and a sentence of seven consecutive life terms, followed by 140 years in prison. “The evidence clearly shows that he knew what he was doing, despite his mental illness,” Burns said in handing down the sentence. He called the length of the sentence justified.
As Giffords looked on silently, her husband spoke at the sentencing: "Gabby would trade her own life for one you took on that day. Every day is a continuous struggle to do the things she was once so very good at. Mr. Loughner, you may have put a bullet through her head but you haven't put a dent in her spirit and her commitment to make the world a better place. You tried to create for all of us a world as dark and evil as your own. But know this, and remember it always: You failed."