PHOENIX — Mavy Stoddard, who lost her husband in the massacre in Arizona last year that severely wounded then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, plans to be in a federal courtroom this week to see if her prayers will be answered by a guilty plea from the man accused of the crime.
Stoddard, who has recovered from three gunshot wounds in a leg, said Sunday she's "just thrilled" by news reports of a possible plea agreement that could send Jared Lee Loughner to prison for the rest of his life.
"I don't really want the death penalty. I would love to see him either put in a mental institution or life in prison with no parole. Either one of them. If he can get some help, that's what he needs. And maybe he will find the Lord," Stoddard said in a telephone interview from her home in Tucson, Ariz.
A hearing in the federal case against Loughner is scheduled for Tuesday in Tucson, and a court-appointed psychiatrist is to testify that Loughner is competent to enter a plea, according to a person familiar with the case who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Loughner is expected to enter a guilty plea if the judge allows that to happen at the hearing, according to the person who spoke Saturday about upcoming court proceedings in the case.
Loughner had pleaded not guilty to 49 federal charges stemming from the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting outside a Tucson supermarket where Giffords was holding a meet-and-greet with constituents. Six people died and 13 were wounded in the attack.
Officials with the U.S. attorney's office and the Pima County attorney's office, which has said it could pursue state prosecution of Loughner, have declined to comment on the case and the possibility of a guilty plea.
Stoddard's 75-year-old husband, Dorwan, died from a gunshot in the head. They were heading to breakfast and had stopped to greet Giffords. When the shootings started, he dove to the ground and covered his wife.
Stoddard said she had "hoped and prayed" that Loughner would plead guilty, sparing victims and their families the potential of a lengthy court proceedings if he was found competent to stand trial.
"I won't believe it until I hear it," said Stoddard, 77.
She's recovering from an illness but intends to be in court to find out more about the plea agreement.
"I have never missed a hearing except one time that I was out of town. I feel like I owe that to Dory," she said.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns has ruled previously that Loughner isn't psychologically fit to stand trial, but that he could be made ready for trial after treatment. Experts have concluded that Loughner suffers from schizophrenia. Loughner has been held in Missouri at a federal medical center for prisoners.
"I could have been shot up a whole lot more. This man took my life because Dory was my life," Stoddard said of Loughner.
Massey reported from Santa Fe, N.M.; Pete Yost contributed from Washington.
Open Your Eyes (Snow Patrol)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/12/obama-gabrielle-giffords-opens-eyes_n_808346.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(Jan. 8, 2011) --</strong></a> Four days after <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/08/gabrielle-giffords-shot-c_n_806211.html" target="_hplink">Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.)</a> was wounded in a grisly shooting, President Barack Obama informed memorial service members that she opened her eyes for the first time. "I can tell you this," Obama said. "She knows we're here and she knows we love her and she knows that we will be rooting for her throughout what will be a difficult journey." (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Stand (Rascal Flatts)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/19/gabrielle-giffords-stands-on-two-feet_n_811355.html" target="_hplink">(Jan. 19, 2011) --</a></strong> Outside the University of Arizona's Medical Center, a decorated paper plate offered well wishes for the Tucson shooting victims. With assistance from doctors, Giffords stood on her own two feet for the first time since the incident. The congresswoman was soon transferred to TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston, one of the top-rated rehab facilities in the country. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
Stand By Me (Ben E. King)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/16/gabrielle-giffords-shuttle-launch_n_862400.html" target="_hplink">(May 16, 2011) --</a></strong> In this Feb. 2011 file photo, Giffords' husband Mark Kelly held a wrist band decorated with a peace sign, heart and the word 'Gabby'. By mid-May, Giffords was watching Kelly fly off into space on NASA's Endeavour expedition. The couple exchanged their wedding rings before takeoff. (Photo by Eric Kayne/Getty Images)
Fighter (Christina Aguilera)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/28/gabrielle-giffords-public-appearance_n_885772.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(June 28, 2011) --</strong></a> Giffords made her first public appearance since being wounded in the Jan. 2011 shooting, attending a ceremony at Texas' Space Center Houston with Kelly. She received a standing ovation from the crowd. (AP Photo/southwestphotobank.com, P.K. Weis)
You're The Inspiration (Chicago)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/01/gabrielle-giffords-debt-ceiling-vote_n_915569.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(Aug. 1, 2011) --</strong></a> Giffords completed her first House floor appearance since the shooting, attending a vote on the debt ceiling. "The reaction in the chamber was the most enthusiastic, exuberant, exhilarating -- I mean we were all crying -- thrilled -- you know, we just knew she would make a triumphant return," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said. (AP Photo/House Television)
Don't Stop (Fleetwood Mac)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/30/gabrielle-giffords-walking-writing_n_941894.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(Aug. 30, 2011) --</strong></a> Via a Giffords spokesperson, the Associated Press learned that less than eight months after being wounded, the congresswoman was walking and writing on her own. (Photo by P.K. Weis/Giffords Campaign via Getty Images)
I Didn't Know My Own Strength (Whitney Houston)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/10/gabrielle-giffords-tv-interview_n_1087420.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(Nov. 10, 2011) --</strong></a> Giffords' first TV interview since the shooting went to ABC News. The congresswoman answered questions with a clear voice, telling host Diane Sawyer that she felt "pretty good." Giffords added that the recovery had been "difficult."
It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday (Boyz II Men)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/22/gabrielle-giffords-stepping-down_n_1222168.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(Jan. 22, 2012) --</strong></a> A little more than a year after the shooting, Giffords announced that she was leaving Congress. In a Facebook video, she cited her recovery as a primary concern, thanking her constituents for their support: "I don't remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice," Giffords said. (AP Photo/Office of Gabrielle Giffords)
I Can See Clearly Now (Johnny Nash)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/24/gabrielle-giffords-last-bill_n_1229309.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(Jan. 24, 2012) --</strong></a> Two days before exiting Congress, Giffords unveiled her final bill, aimed at stopping cross-border drug smugglers. "Congresswoman Giffords is committed to taking this crucial step that would help secure the border against drug smugglers," Giffords' chief of staff, Pia Carusone, said in a statement. "That's why she decided this would be the last bill she introduces before she steps down." (Photo by Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images)
Hero (Mariah Carey)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/25/gabrielle-giffords-state-of-the-union-appearance_n_1230480.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(Jan. 24, 2012) --</strong></a> Giffords made a moving appearance at Obama's 2012 State of the Union address. Her presence drew rousing applause, inspiring colleagues on both sides of the aisle. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)