The final chapter of the deadly Tucson shooting saga played out in a federal courtroom Tuesday when suspect Jared Loughner was found competent by a judge to stand trial and immediately pleaded guilty to 19 charges, including the wounding of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Prosecutors agreed in exchange not to seek the death penalty.
Loughner pleaded guilty to 19 total charges, with 30 others dismissed.
Loughner's plea included guilty pleas for the murders of U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords staffer Gabe Zimmerman. It also included guilty pleas for the attempted assassination of Giffords and the attempted murders of Giffords employees Pam Simon and Ron Barber. Barber succeeded Giffords as U.S. representative from Tucson.
All are federal employees.
He also pleaded guilty to causing the deaths of the others killed at Giffords' constituent event at a grocery store just outside of Tucson. Because it was an official congressional event, it was a federally protected activity.
The maximum sentence for the crimes would be mandatory life in prison without eligibility for parole.
In light of all the evidence and professional observations of experts, the court U.S. District Judge Larry Burns found Loughner mentally competent shortly after noon Tuesday.
"My personal observations of him leave no questions in my mind that Loughner knows what's going on today," Burns said.
The shooting rampage at a Giffords event last year left six dead and 13 wounded.
Burns' competency ruling came after testimony from Dr. Christina Pietz, Loughner's forensic psychologist, who said she believed Loughner was competent to stand trial after spending months in a prison psychiatric hospital in Missouri.
Loughner, dressed in a khaki uniform, sat quietly in the U.S. District Court courtroom as Pietz described her review of 2,000 pages of Loughner's journal, computer entries and other material. From that, she concluded that he has shown signs of depression since 2006 and may have developed symptoms of schizophrenia in his junior year of high school.
Between 2008-2010, Loughner's parents and friends became concerned that he would commit suicide because of his depression, and started a suicide watch. In one video he filmed of himself, he said he was so depressed he wanted to assassinate someone.
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."
Since being imprisoned, Loughner wanted a job, which Pietz said was a sign for competency. He works two prison jobs, one rolling towels for inmates.
Pietz said she believed Loughner to have a factual, rational understanding the role of jury, a judge, prosecutors, judicial proceedings. During inmate group competency therapy, Loughner was asked what he would do if he left prison. He replied, "I'm never gonna get out."
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