Gabrielle Giffords. Photo Reuters
Former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords stood in
federal court to face her would-be assassin moments before he
was sentenced to life in prison for killing six people and
wounding 13 others, including Giffords, last year.
Jared Loughner, 24, a college dropout with a history of
psychiatric disorders, received seven consecutive life terms
plus 140 years in prison, without the possibility of parole,
under a plea deal with prosecutors that spares him the death
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns said the life sentences he
imposed - one for each of the six people who lost their lives
and a seventh for the attempted assassination of Giffords -
represented the individuality of the victims.
"He will never have the opportunity to pick up a gun and do
this again," Burns said.
Giffords suffered a head wound that left her with speech
difficulties, a paralyzed right arm, diminished sight and a
Addressing the court along with several survivors of the
January 8, 2011, shooting, Giffords' husband, former
astronaut Mark Kelly, told Loughner he had failed in his
attempt to "extinguish the beauty of life".
Kelly used the occasion to take a political swipe at Arizona
Governor Jan Brewer, a staunch gun-rights advocate,
criticizing her for speaking out against proposed
restrictions on high-capacity ammunition magazines, like the
ones Loughner used, in the aftermath of the shooting.
"Jan Brewer said it had nothing to do with the size of the
magazine. ... She said this just one week after you used a
high-capacity magazine," Kelly said, also noting that she
named a "state gun" weeks later instead of "fixing the
Loughner, asked at the outset of the hearing by Burns if he
had chosen to waive his right to make a statement, answered
in a low voice, "That's true."
He was otherwise silent as he sat next to his lawyer, Judy
Clarke, gazing expressionless at the survivors who spoke in
court during the proceedings. He displayed no visible sign of
emotion when he was sentenced.
Giffords stood by her husband's side, looking impassively at
Loughner as Kelly addressed the defendant directly, in a
clear, ringing voice. "You may have put a bullet through her
head, but you haven't put a dent in her commitment to make
the world a better place," Kelly told him.
"Although you were mentally ill, you were responsible," he
added. "You have decades upon decades to contemplate what you
did, but from this moment, Gabby and I are done thinking
Giffords did not speak.
The proceedings marked a dramatic epilogue to a rampage of
gun violence that shocked the nation, reignited a debate over
control of firearms and cut short the political career of a
rising star in the Democratic Party.