Photo by Pima County Sheriff's Forensic Unit
UPDATE: Jared Lee Loughner pleaded guilty on Tuesday to killing six people and injuring 13 others—including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords—during a shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., last year.
As part of his plea bargain, Loughner will spend the remainder of his life in prison. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to remove the possibility that he would be put to death for his crimes—a deal that Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, had previously said they were "satisfied" with.
Loughner entered his plea Tuesday afternoon, shortly after the judge ruled that he was fit to stand trial. USA Today reports that the court heard from a forensic psychologist who testified that, with the help of medication, Loughner had begun to not only understand what he had done but also to feel remorse about the shooting.
"He has become human," Christina Pietz said. Still, the psychologist also said that not only is Loughner "severly mentally ill," he is also "one of the worst I've treated."
Tuesday, Aug. 7: Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband said Tuesday that they are satisfied with a plea deal for Jared Lee Loughner that would keep him in prison for the rest of his life but spare him the death penalty.
Loughner is expected to plead guilty as part of the plea bargain later on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reports.
"Gabby and I have been in contact with the U.S. Attorneys' Office throughout this process," Mark Kelly said in a statement for the couple. "We don't speak for all of the victims or their families, but Gabby and I are satisfied with this plea agreement. ... The pain and loss caused by the events of January 8, 2011 are incalculable. Avoiding a trial will allow us—and we hope the whole Southern Arizona community—to continue with our recovery and move forward with our lives."
Six died and 13 were wounded in the shooting in Tucson, Ariz. Loughner faces scores of charges, including murder and attempted murder, in connection with the deadly incident.
The plea faces one final obstacle, according to the Associated Press: A judge will have to determine that Loughner is mentally competent to enter a plea before it'll go through. A federal judge has previously declared him unfit to stand trial.
Sunday, Aug. 5: Jared Lee Loughner is expected to change his plea to guilty on Tuesday for the shooting rampage that killed six people and wounded then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others last year in Tucson, Ariz. The Los Angeles Times was the first to report word from sources that mental health officials are apparently ready to testify they believe the 23-year-old Loughner is competent to understand the charges against him.
The Associated Press points out that the plan is still contingent on the judge allowing Loughner to enter the plea. If allowed, it’s unclear whether he would plead guilty to all or some of the charges, but the move would likely allow him to exchange life in prison rather than risk being sentenced to death. The already scheduled Tuesday hearing was set to be his fourth to determine whether he is fit to stand trial, but it has now been changed to a change-of-plea hearing, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Although federal prosecutors had said early on that capital punishment was a distinct possibility, noting they had uncovered evidence that Loughner carefully planned the attack, the case so far has largely focused on his mental health. Experts said in May of last year that Loughner suffered from schizophrenia, notes Reuters. He is now undergoing forcible medication at a prison psychiatric hospital to treat his psychosis in order to make him fit for trial.