Giffords shooter gets 7 life terms plus 140 years
TUCSON — A federal court judge on Thursday sentenced shooter Jared Loughner to seven consecutive life terms plus 140 years, calling the sentence “astronomical” and “justified” because the former student “knew what he was doing” when he killed six and wounded 13 at a 2011 congressional event sponsored by then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
“The facts show he traveled there with the purpose of shooting Ms. Giffords,” U.S. District Judge Larry Burns said.
In an intense and emotional sentencing that lasted about 2-1⁄2 hours, Burns ordered Loughner, 23, returned to a federal prison hospital in Springfield, Mo., pending a decision from the federal Bureau of Prisons on where he ultimately will serve his sentence.
The hearing included testimony from Loughner's victims, several of whom faced him to address him directly.
Suzi Hileman, who was shot while shielding a 9-year-old friend she had taken to Giffords' event, told her assailant: “I wanted to take you by the shoulders and shake you and scream at you, as if that would help.”
Navy Comdr. Mark Kelly — Giffords' husband and a retired astronaut — accompanied his wife to the podium.
Giffords, clad in a green blouse and sporting shoulder-length blond hair, did not speak. Kelly, instead, addressed Loughner about the morning of Jan. 8, 2011, when Giffords was shot in the head. She survived but eventually resigned her seat because of her injury.
“Mr. Loughner: For the first and last time, you are going to hear from Gabby and me ... so pay attention,” Kelly began.
“You may have put a bullet in her head, but you haven't put a dent in her spirit or her commitment to make the world a better place.
“You tried to create a world as dark and evil as your own,” he said. “Remember this: You failed.”
Kelly also noted that for Giffords, “every day is a continuous struggle to do the things she was once so very good at. ... By making death and producing tragedy, you sought to diminish the beauty of life.”
Kelly and several victims spoke about the need for gun control laws and the lack of substantial mental health care in Arizona and the nation.
Though Loughner had a legal right to address the court, he declined to make a statement.
After the hearing, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder released a written statement saying the sentence “means Jared Loughner will never again be free to hurt or menace the American public. or the victims, their families, and the larger community impacted by this tragic event in our nation's history, it is my sincere hope that this conclusion will help in their journey toward physical and emotional recovery.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. attorney for Arizona, John Leonardo, expressed hope that the case will call attention to the need for detection and treatment of mental illness.
“It seems likely that had Mr. Loughner not suffered from the mental illness of schizophrenia, he would not have committed these horrific acts,” Leonardo said in a written statement.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- CMU water service to be interrupted for much of Sunday
- Gas industry remedies ‘brain drain’ in Western Pennsylvania
- Paying tuition a challenge as costs skyrocket and aid varies
- Pirates’ 5-game winning streak ends with 1-0 loss to Brewers
- Pirates find a bridge at end of baseball world
- Pitt blows 10-point lead as Iowa rallies for win
- Starkey: Can Steelers’ Mitchell find Carolina cure?
- Penguins’ Rutherford hopes to raise Cup again
- Penguins notebook: Crosby sits, could be out ‘couple days’
- Penn State rolls past Massachusetts
- Pirates notebook: Worley raring to go after skipping last start