Jared Lee Loughner: Time to throw away the key and remember the victims of a madman

Jared Lee Loughner, 24, was sentenced in Tucson to life without parole for killing six and injuring 13 in his attack on Gabby Giffords. Photo: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly/Associated Press

WASHINGTON, November 8, 2012 — Jared Lee Loughner, 24, was sentenced in Tucson to life in prison without parole for killing six and injuring 13 on January 8, 2011. His target was U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who he felt personified all that was wrong with the government. Reports state that Loughner also feels that women should not be in positions of leadership.

It was an emotional moment as victims, including Rep. Giffords and her husband, NASA Astronaut Mark Kelly, faced the murderer and read emotional statements reflecting on the cost to the families and persons killed and injured in his murderous spree.

Displaying the unity and strength that have marked the very public struggle of Rep. Giffords to recover after being shot in the head by Loughner, the couple stared at Loughner, with Kelly addressing the man who shot his wife.

“Gabby would trade her own life for one you took on that day,” Kelly said to Loughner of his wife, whose efforts to recover have inspired many people across the nation. “Every day is a continuous struggle to do the things she was once so very good at.”

“Mr. Loughner, you may have put a bullet through her head, but you haven’t put a dent in her spirit and her commitment to make the world a better place,” Kelly was quoted as saying in media reports.

“You tried to create for all of us a world as dark and evil as your own,” Kelly continued. “But know this, and remember it always: You failed.

“You have decades upon decades to contemplate what you did. But after today, after this moment, here and now, Gabby and I are done thinking about you.”

Rep. Giffords did not speak. 

Loughner did not make any statement at the sentencing, which resulted from a plea agreement to 19 federal charges. Loughner received a sentence of seven consecutive life terms plus 140 years in a federal prison. The agreement allows him to avoid a federal death sentence, though it does not preclude Pima Country, Arizona prosecutors from seeking the death penalty.

The proceedings were presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Larry A. Burns, who ruled that Loughner, despite his mental illness, was aware of what he was doing.

Others whose lives were profoundly changed in the attack included Susan Hileman, who remarked on Loughner’s mental illness, saying:

“We’ve been told about your demons, about the illness that skewed your thinking,” said Hileman, adding, “It’s all true. … 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 parents sat listening nearby, his mother sobbing.

Loughner may be sent to a prison medical facility, like the one in Springfield, Missouri, where he has been treated over the last year; or he could be transferred to a federal lockup.

The families and victims, like Rep. Giffords, certainly welcomed the plea agreement that avoids a long and possibly traumatic trial. Loughner was only able to plead after undergoing forcible psychotropic drug treatments for schizophrenia. Loughner will be forced to continue those treatments while incarcerated.

“Given the defendant’s history of significant mental illness, this plea agreement, which requires the defendant to spend the remainder of his natural life in prison, with no possibility of parole, is a just and appropriate resolution of this case,” U.S. attorney John S. Leonardo said. “I hope that today’s resolution of this case will help the victims, their families, and the entire Tucson community take another step forward in the process of healing and recovering from this sad and tragic event.”

Those who were injured and those suffering the loss of loved ones can now forget Jared Lee Loughner while we remember those he stole from us. Loughner killed six people, including:

Christina Taylor Green, 9, of Tucson. Green was accompanied to the meeting by neighbor Susan Hileman. As her date of birth was September 11, 2001, she had appeared in the book Faces of Hope: Babies Born on 9/11. She was the granddaughter of former Major League Baseball player and manager Dallas Green and the second cousin of actress Sophia Bush.

Dorothy “Dot” Morris, 76, a retired secretary from Oro Valley; wife of George Morris, who was wounded.

John Roll, 63, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for Arizona, named to the federal bench by President George H. W. Bush in 1991.

Phyllis Schneck, 79, homemaker from Tucson.

Dorwan Stoddard, 76, retired construction worker, died from a gunshot wound to the head; his wife Mavy was wounded.

Gabriel “Gabe” Zimmerman, 30, community outreach director for Giffords, and a member of Giffords’ staff since 2006. Zimmerman was the first Congressional staffer killed in the line of duty.  (Source Wikipedia)

In addition to the six dead, 13 other people were wounded in the attack, including Mavy Stoddard, who emotionally recounted how her husband, Dorwan, lay over her to protect her, dying in her arms.

Gabrielle Giffords and two other members of her staff were among the surviving gunshot victims.


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Jacquie Kubin

Jacquie Kubin is an award winning journalist that began writing in 1993 following a successful career in marketing and advertising in Chicago.  She started Communities Digital News in 2009 as a way to adapt to the changing online journalism marketing place.  Jacquie is President and Managing Editor of Communities Digital News, LLC and a frequent contributor to The Washington Times Communities as well as a member of the National Association of Professional Woman, New American Foundation and the Society of Professional Journalist.  Email Jacquie here

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