TUCSON, Arizona: A US man faces life in prison Thursday after pleading guilty in the shooting rampage that left six people dead and wounded former US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others.
The sentencing hearing will mark the first time that victims will confront Jared Lee Loughner in court about the January 2011 shooting at a Giffords political event outside a grocery store in Arizona.
Prosecutors say an unspecified number of victims will comment before US District Judge Larry Burns sentences Loughner. It was unknown whether Giffords or her husband planned to attend or have a statement read on their behalf.
The 24-year-old Loughner pleaded guilty three months ago to 19 federal charges under an agreement that guarantees he will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole. The deal calls for the dismissal of 30 other charges and a sentence of seven consecutive life terms, followed by 140 years in prison.
Both sides reached the deal after a judge declared that Loughner was able to understand the charges against him. After the shooting, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was forced to undergo psychotropic drug treatments.
It’s unknown whether Pima County prosecutors, who have discretion on whether to seek the death penalty against Loughner, will file state charges against him. Stephanie Coronado, a spokeswoman for Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, said Wednesday that no decision had been made.