PHOENIX — Mavy Stoddard, who lost her husband in Arizona last year in the massacre that severely wounded Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman from that state, 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 is ‘‘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.
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 it publicly.
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. Prosecutors probably would have argued for a death sentence if he was convicted at a trial.
Loughner had pleaded not guilty to 49 federal charges stemming from the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting outside a Tucson supermarket where Giffords was meeting with constituents. Six people died and 13 were wounded in the attack.
Officials with the US attorney’s office and the Pima County attorney’s office, which could pursue state prosecution of Loughner, have declined to comment on the case and the possibility of a guilty plea.
US District Judge Larry Burns has ruled previously that Loughner is not psychologically fit to stand trial, but that he could be made ready for trial after treatment. Health specialists have concluded that Loughner suffers from schizophrenia. Loughner has been held in Missouri at a federal medical center for prisoners.
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, 77, 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.
Giffords and her husband were traveling in Europe, and spokeswoman Hayley Zachary said Saturday she had no information on developments in Loughner’s case.
Loughner has demonstrated bizarre behavior since his arrest.
He was removed from a May 25, 2011, court hearing when he lowered his head to within inches of the courtroom table, then lifted his head and began a loud and angry rant.