Jared Loughner, the man accused of going on a shooting spree during a town-hall meeting held by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona pleaded guilty of killing six and wounding 12 others.
The AP reports:
“Loughner’s plea Tuesday allows him to avoid the death penalty in a mass shooting that gained worldwide attention in January 2011 because his intended target was the congresswoman. Among the dead were Arizona’s chief federal judge and a Giffords’ aide.
“Federal Judge Larry A. Burns had found that Loughner was mentally unfit to stand trial. He ruled on Tuesday that months of forcibly medicating him to treat his schizophrenia made him competent to understand the gravity of the charges against him and assist in his own defense.”
“My personal observations of him leave no questions in my mind that Loughner knows what’s going on today,” Burns said, according to The Arizona Republic.
The Republic reports that Dr. Christina Pietz, Loughner’s forensic psychologist, testified during today’s hearing. The paper reports:
“When Pietz diagnosed Loughner with schizophrenia after the shootings in 2011, he was described as being ‘disappointed, upset.’ He told her he wished he took depression medication, Pietz said. Pietz said she believed medication had subsequently helped Loughner because he began making comments about feeling badly about what he had done. He also showed some understanding of his actions, saying he wanted to be executed and crying about a child’s death in the event.
“Pietz also said Loughner expressed shock that Giffords survived, telling her he was disappointed that he failed to kill the lawmaker. He said of himself, ‘Jared is a failure.’”
The AP reports that Loughner listened “calmly and without expression” during the hearing.