Tuscon, AZ – Jared Lee Loughner, the man who pleaded guilty to an Arizona shooting rampage that killed six and wounded 14 others including former US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, faced the survivors of his crimes during his sentencing hearing Thursday.
During the hearing, a judge declared Loughner competent to face the charges against him. He declined to speak throughout the hearing, during which his surviving victims tearfully addressed him for the first time, reports NBC News.
Loughner was confronted by survivors over the January 2011 shooting at a Giffords political event outside of a grocery store in Tuscon, AZ. Loughner’s parents were present and weeping in the court room, as well as Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly (though it is unknown whether or not they planned to speak).
Three months ago, Loughner pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges under a plea agreement that guarantees he will spend the rest of his life in prison without parole. The deal includes the dismissal of 30 other charges and a sentence of seven consecutive life terms, followed by 140 years in prison.
After the shooting, Loughner was diagnosed with schizophrenia and underwent forcible psychotropic drug treatments. Still, a judge declared that Loughner was able to understand the charges leveled against him.
Suzi Hileman, who was shot three times by Loughner while trying to save her 9-year-old neighbor, plans to address the court. “He has to pay the consequences for what he did, and justice will be served,” Hileman said.
Christina Pietz, the court-appointed psychologist who treated Loughner, said that while he was competent to plead guilty, his severe mental illnesses could cause his condition to deteriorate under the stress of trial. Loughner famously thought that he had succeeded in killing Giffords, and considered himself a failure when he learned that she had survived.
Whether or not Loughner will face federal lock-up or be allowed to serve his sentence in a prison medical facility is currently unknown.