Jared Loughner Not Entirely Convinced That Gabrielle Giffords Is Alive
The competency report for Jared Loughner was released yesterday, and while the forensic psychologist reported that Loughner was competent to enter a plea, she noted several concerns about Loughner and his mental illness.
Loughner -- who pleaded guilty earlier this week to 19 charges related to last year's Tucson shooting where six people died and 13 were injured -- was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and the 11-page report details some of the intricacies of his behavior while being treated at a federal mental-health facility in Missouri.
Among other things, the report mentions that Loughner previously denied the fact that former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is alive, and even toward the end of his treatment, there was no indication that he accepted it as true.
"Throughout this evaluation, Mr. Loughner has made comments suggesting he believes Representative Giffords is deceased and her death was 'faked,'" psychologist Christina Pietz writes. "In July 2011, Mr. Loughner made comments suggesting he acknowledged Representative Giffords was alive. When he returned to this facility on October 12, 2011, he again began calling her death 'fake.'"
The report says that a few months later, Loughner told the psychologist he was just "fucking with" her."
"I just wanted to see what you would say," Loughner purportedly said.
When the psychologist asked him questions about that, she says Loughner exclaimed, "Well, she's dead to me."
A little more than a week later, Pietz tried again to find out whether Loughner believed Giffords was dead or alive, and what he meant by his comments.
"That I failed. I'm not an assassin," he said. "That I ruined my life for nothing. I think differently now."
In that same interview, Loughner began to refer to himself in the third person, and indicated that he wasn't sure if Giffords was dead or alive.
"It's another failure if she's alive," he said. "Jared Loughner failed again. He's a failure. So all of this would be for nothing."
A week after that, Loughner "spontaneously" told the psychologist, "I saw her on TV yesterday. I saw her do the pledge."
Pietz notes that Loughner didn't mention anything about Giffords faking her death during that talk, but the very next day, he voiced another opinion.
"I saw her walk into her office for the last time. She's going to the state of the union address," Loughner said. "I swear to you that's not the woman I shot. The woman I shot in the head died instantly. No one could survive that gunshot wound to the head."
As of the day Pietz wrote the report -- April 24 -- it wasn't clear exactly what Loughner believed.
Since January 24, there have been times, that he acknowledges she is alive," she wrote. "However, more recently, when I asked him about the status of Representative Giffords he simply states 'I don't want to talk to you about that.'"
Pietz has a few explanations for Loughner's inconsistent statements on Giffords' death, including that he simply may not know that a gunshot to the head doesn't automatically mean someone's dead.
There's also about 10 seconds of video footage of the shooting outside the Safeway store in Tucson, where Giffords was holding a "Congress on Your Corner" event before she and the others were shot.
He has referred to this footage as "fake" too.
Loughner continued to "dispute a few things in the video" up until the time of the report, more than a year later.
Still, Pietz said it didn't affect her opinion on Loughner's competency.
"Despite his belief that Representative Giffords may be deceased or that 10 seconds of the video footage is 'fake,' in my opinion, his assessment, understanding, and ability to make decisions about this case is based on reality," the report says. "Just because he believes the death is 'fake' or that he was holding a gun in a certain way does not necessarily compromise these abilities."
The report, which can be found below, also includes other aspects of Loughner's time at the mental-health facility, including his interactions with others, and his perceptions about the case against him.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.