Giffords gunman: I'm a failure

2012-08-10 08:31
The Gabrielle Giffords shooter believes he is a failure because she survived. (southwestphotobank.com, PK Weis, AP)

The Gabrielle Giffords shooter believes he is a failure because she survived. (southwestphotobank.com, PK Weis, AP)

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Washington - The Tucson gunman who killed six people and severely wounded Gabrielle Giffords has labelled himself a failure because the former Arizona Congresswoman survived his rampage, according to a prison psychologist's report.

The report's release comes two days after Jared Loughner, 23, in a deal that will spare him the death penalty, pleaded guilty to six murders and other charges stemming from his January 2011 shooting spree at a Tucson supermarket.

Psychologist Christina Pietz, who evaluated Loughner at a federal prison hospital in Missouri, said in the report that Loughner had repeatedly made comments suggesting he thought Giffords died when he shot her in the head.

At one time, he suggested he understood that Giffords was alive, according to Pietz, who wrote that she pressed him on that point, and he admitted to feeling disappointed in her survival because it meant he "failed".

"I'm not an assassin," Pietz's report quoted Loughner, a community college dropout, as saying.

Severe injuries

Later on in the interview, he told Pietz: "Jared Loughner failed again. He's a failure. So all of this would be for nothing."

Giffords, then a US lawmaker from Arizona who was seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party, was meeting constituents at a Tucson supermarket on 8 January 2011 when she was shot at close range.

She survived with severe injuries that left her with broken speech and a marked limp. Six other people were killed including US District Judge John Roll and 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green and 12 others were wounded.

In January, the Democrat resigned from Congress to focus on her recovery, which has inspired many Americans, and later turned to supporting her former aide Ron Barber in his successful campaign to win her seat.

A representative for Giffords and her astronaut husband, Mark Kelly, who have said they were satisfied with the plea arrangement, could not be reached for comment on the details in the report on Loughner, dated 24 April.

Pietz wrote in her report that, after making statements suggesting he knew Giffords was alive, he reversed himself and insisted she was dead. Pietz added that he may hold onto that belief to avoid feeling like a failure.

"In my opinion, Mr Loughner maintains this belief to vindicate himself and not because he is delusional," she wrote in the report, which described Loughner's behaviour in the three months to late April 2012.

Pietz said in court on Tuesday in a mental status hearing in which Loughner was found mentally competent to stand trial, that in July he had expressed remorse for the shooting and especially for Green's death.

Loughner, who court appointed psychologists say has suffered from schizophrenia and depression, had been determined unfit to stand trial in May 2011 after he disrupted court proceedings.

His plea deal, which came moments after he was found mentally competent, calls for him to be sentenced to seven consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole. A sentencing hearing is set for 15 November.

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