Jared Loughner pleaded guilty Tuesday in Tuscon, Ariz., to the January 2011 shooting rampage that killed six people and seriously wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 13 others; he will be spared execution but never walk free again.
The plea follows months of discussion about Loughner's competency to stand trial due to his schizophrenia, an illness which a federal appeals court ultimately ruled he could be forcibly medicated for.
Loughner's plea was accepted after his court-appointed psychologist, Dr. Christina Pietz, took the stand Tuesay, testifying that Loughner's mental state was stable. District Judge Larry Burns soon after deemed Loughner mentally competent to stand trial.
Pietz testified that Loughner was never forcibly medicated, but that he began responding to medication after six to eight months of treatment and is now remorseful for the killings and tormented by his deeds, reported Tuscon News Now.
Loughner's plea deal, which included guilty pleas to 19 criminal charges, will spare him the death penalty and result instead in a life term in federal prison without the possibility of parole. Under the plea deal, 30 of the original 49 counts against Loughner were dismissed. The remaining 19 counts Loughner admitted include murder, attempted murder and attempted assassination.
The Associated Press reported that Loughner sat quietly during his hearing, "and smiled at one point when a psychologist testifying about his competence remarked that he had bonded with one of the federal prison guards."
Michelle Lee, a reporter for Arizona Republic, live-tweeted during the hearing that Loughner was "attentively looking at judge, answering his questions, leaning forward in his seat."
Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, issued a joint statement in support of the plea deal. "The pain and loss caused by the events of Jan. 8, 2011, are incalculable," said Giffords. "Avoiding a trial will allow us - and we hope the whole Southern Arizona community - to continue with our recovery."
Loughner will officially be sentenced in November.