Jared Loughner Sentenced to Life for AZ Shootings - FindLaw Blotter
FindLaw Blotter - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

Jared Loughner Sentenced to Life for AZ Shootings

Jared Lee Loughner has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Loughner, 24, had earlier pleaded guilty to shooting and killing six people and wounding 12 others including former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011.

Prior to receiving his sentence, Loughner listened to victims describe how his shooting rampage at a Tucson supermarket affected their lives. Giffords' husband Mark Kelly explained that "every day is a continuous struggle" for the former congresswoman, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Loughner was the only real suspect in the case, as he was wrestled to the ground during the shooting. The main issue was whether he would face the death penalty given his mental condition. Loughner had undergone a psychiatric evaluation after the shooting, and was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

The troubled young man apparently was motivated to shoot Giffords because he believed that she personified the government that he hated, reports the Times.

Despite his mental illness, a federal judge found that Loughner was capable of understanding the charges brought against him. That's why he was sentenced to life in prison instead of being sent to a mental health facility.

Still, despite Loughner's mental capacity, almost all of his victims stated they didn't want the government to seek the death penalty against him. They reportedly felt that it wasn't right to execute a man with a mental illness.

Typically, a judge will consider several factors when determining an appropriate sentence. A judge will often consider the wishes of the victims, though those wishes do not necessarily determine the final outcome.

In Loughner's case, the convicted killer had already agreed to a plea deal in which the death penalty was taken off the table. Instead, Loughner agreed to a sentence of seven consecutive life terms, followed by 140 years in prison.

Related Resources: