- Radar van locations, traffic incidents & today's gas prices
- Police & fire scanners
- Judge: Arpaio racially profiled Latinos in immigration crackdowns
- ChamberLab concert celebrates series anniversary
- New PCC chief: Accountability will put college back on track1
Updated Aug 9, 2012, 2:01 pm Originally posted Aug 9, 2012, 11:28 am
A just-released April report said Jan. 8 shooter Jared Loughner was competent to stand trial, but might not remain so. Loughner “does suffer from a severe mental illness,” it said, “and his condition may wax and wane. Consequently, the possibility exists that he may decompensate during the criminal process.”
The report, which was provided to the judge in the case in April, was prepared by prison psychologist Dr. Christina Pietz on April 24 but not posted by a federal court website until Thursday morning.
Pietz and Loughner's attorneys worried that Loughner's grasp on reality might not stand up through the stress of a "lengthy and stressful" criminal trial, the report said.
"(B)ecause of his fragile mental state, there is no guarantee he will remain competent for an extended time," Pietz wrote.
The report indicates that defense attorneys "indicated a desire to negotiate a plea bargain" in the spring, and that Loughner "acknowledged that he would most likely be sentenced to life in prison."
On Tuesday, Loughner pleaded guilty to 19 of the 49 federal counts against him, sending him to prison for the rest of his life without the possibility of parole.
By pleading guilty, Loughner avoids a potential death penalty. Under the terms of the 14-page agreement, he will be sentenced to seven life terms, plus 140 years in prison, to be served consecutively. There is no possibility of parole under Loughner's sentence, which is due to be imposed on Nov. 15.
Many of the victims welcomed the settlement, and said they were pleased they would not have to endure testifying at a trial.
Support TucsonSentinel.com & let thousands of daily readers know
your business cares about creating a HEALTHIER, MORE INFORMED Tucson
"Avoiding a trial will allow us — and we hope the whole Southern Arizona community — to continue with our recovery," said a statement issued by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly.
Her comments were echoed by several of the shooting victims who attended Tuesday's hearing at Tucson's federal courthouse.
"I approve of the deal that was struck," said Randy Gardner, who was shot on Jan. 8.
"He's finished; he's not going to get out again," he said. "He's not going to be able to harm anybody."