Arizona shooter Jared Lee Loughner just pleaded guilty for the Tucson rampage that killed six people and injured 12 others, including then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The news that he would plead guilty was leaked by a source this weekend, but today it's official. With this plea prosecutors will not pursue the death penalty for Loughner. He will likely be given multiple life sentences in federal prison, ineligible for parole.
Loughner's federal psychologist Dr. Christina Pietz testified that through treatment he was now competent to stand trial. Arizona -- and the rest of the country -- will be spared a long, draining trial thanks to this plea, so this is good news. Jared Lee Loughner will have to live with the full weight of his actions. And one thing is very clear: Insanity is not a get-out-of-jail free card.
For a while there it looked like Jared Loughner might not be competent to stand trial. His lawyers reported that he'd spit on them and thrown a chair. He ranted in a hearing. He also seemed convinced that Gabrielle Giffords had died. At first he tried to refuse medication, but he was diagnosed as schizophrenic and force-fed meds for a full year.
We're seeing similarly "insane" behavior from Aurora movie theater shooter James Holmes. He has spit at jail officers so many times he is forced to wear a face mask. He may not be faking it, either -- reportedly his psychiatrist at the University of Colorado reported her fears that he might be dangerous weeks before his attack. So even if he, like Jared Lee Loughner, was mentally insane at the time of his attack, he may face the same treatment Loughner did.
It will be interesting to see how Holmes is diagnosed, if he is given medication, and if so, what effect his treatment had. I think he should have to face the full weight of his actions with a clear head, fully aware of what he has done.
Do you think James Holmes' trial and treatment will be similar to Loughner's?
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