Victim scolds Loughner over Ariz. shooting rampage
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The man who pleaded guilty to a deadly Arizona shooting rampage that also wounded then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords came face to face with his victims Thursday, with one scolding him and saying his parents and community had failed him.
“We’ve been told about your demons, about the illness that skewed your thinking,” said Susan Hileman, at times visibly shaking, to Jared Lee Loughner at his sentencing hearing. “Your parents, your schools, your community, they all failed you.
“It’s all true,” Hileman said. “It’s not enough.”
“You pointed a weapon and shot me three times,” she said, staring directly at Loughner. He looked back at her. “And now I walked out of this courtroom and into the rest of my life and I won’t think of you again.”
Loughner’s mother Amy could be seen wiping her eyes.
Earlier, Loughner told U.S. District Judge Larry Burns that he will not be speaking at the hearing Thursday where the 24-year-old is expected to be sentenced to life in prison. Loughner wore dress pants and a dark brown shirt with a tie, and drank from a foam cup.
Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, were in court. Kelly was expected to make a statement.
Loughner pleaded guilty three months ago to 19 federal charges under an agreement that guarantees he will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The deal calls for the dismissal of 30 other charges and a sentence of seven consecutive life terms, followed by 140 years in prison.
Both sides reached the deal after a judge declared that Loughner was able to understand the charges against him. After the shooting, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and underwent forcible psychotropic drug treatments.
Some victims, including Giffords, welcomed the deal as a way to move on. It spared victims and their families from having to go through a potentially lengthy and traumatic trial and locks up the defendant for life.
Ron Barber, a former Giffords staffer who was shot in the cheek and thigh during the attack and later won election to her seat when Giffords stepped down, plans to make a statement, said his spokesman, Mark Kimble.
Hileman, who was shot three times while trying to save her 9-year-old neighbor, and Mavy Stoddard, whose husband died shielding her from bullets, plan to address the court.
“He has to pay the consequences for what he did, and justice will be served,” Hileman said.
Judy Clarke, Loughner’s lead attorney, didn’t return messages seeking comment.
Christina Pietz, the court-appointed psychologist who treated Loughner, had warned that although Loughner was competent to plead guilty, he remained severely mentally ill and his condition could deteriorate under the stress of a trial.
When Loughner first arrived at a Missouri prison facility for treatment, he was convinced Giffords was dead, even though he was shown a video of the shooting. He eventually realized she was alive after he was forcibly medicated.
It’s unknown whether Pima County prosecutors, who have discretion on whether to seek the death penalty against Loughner, will file state charges against him. Stephanie Coronado, a spokeswoman for Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, said Wednesday that no decision had been made.
It’s unclear where Loughner will be sent to serve his federal sentence. He could return to a prison medical facility like the one in Springfield, Mo., where he’s been treated for more than a year. Or he could end up in a prison such as the federal lockup in Florence, Colo., that houses some of the country’s most notorious criminals, including Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols and “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski.
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