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Arizona federal judge hands down life sentence for Tucson shooter

A federal judge at the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] sentenced Jared Lee Loughner to life in prison [judgment, PDF] on Thursday for killing six people in the January 2011 Tucson shooting. The shooting also injured thirteen people, including former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) [campaign website]. Judge Larry A. Burns sentenced [AP report] Loughner to serve seven life sentences: six for the six people he killed and a seventh for his assassination attempt on Gifford. Loughner pleaded guilty to the charges, enabling him to avoid the death sentence. The shooting took place during a meet-and-greet outside a supermarket. Giffords was in the courtroom to hear Burns announce Loughner's sentence. It was the first time that Giffords had confronted Loughner.

In August Loughner pleaded guilty [JURIST post] to 19 of 49 charges, including killing a 9-year-old girl and Chief Judge John Roll [NYT backgrounder] of the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website], as well as wounding Giffords. In ending an ongoing debate between prosecutors and defense counsel, the judge found that Loughner understood in court that he was responsible for opening fire during Giffords's local constituent meeting in an Arizona parking lot. Both sides then arranged Loughner's ensuing plea, which assuredly sidestepped the death penalty. Loughner was formally charged [JURIST report] with the Tucson shootings in January 2011.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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