9 Aug 2012

Killer pleads guilty to shooting congresswoman

4:45 am on 9 August 2012

The man who shot American Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others last year in a Tucson, Arizona car park has pleaded guilty after a judge found him mentally competent to stand trial.

Last year, Jared Loughner's case was put on hold after experts said he had schizophrenia.

The plea deal spares the 23-year old from the death penalty and he is now expected to be sentenced to life in jail.

Ms Giffords, an Arizona representative at the time, was wounded in the January 2011 attack and has since left office.

Before the court appearance she said she would be satisfied with Loughner's plea deal. Her husband Mark Kelly wrote: "The pain and loss caused by the events of 8 January 2011 are incalculable.

"Avoiding a trial will allow us - and we hope the whole southern Arizona community - to continue with our recovery and move forward with our lives."

The BBC cites the Reuters news agency as reporting that under the terms of the deal, Loughner has pleaded guilty to 19 criminal counts related to the deaths of six people and the wounding of 13 others.