Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly face shooter in Arizona courtroom: "Donethinking about you"
Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords held husband Mark Kelly's hand as she faced the shooter who nearly took her life in a Tucson courtroom on Thursday.
Jared Lee Loughner opened fire at a Giffords community appearance in Tucson in January 2011, killing six and wounding 13, including the congresswoman, who was shot in the head at close range.
In August Loughner pled guilty to 49 charges in exchange for taking the death penalty off the table. At the sentencing hearing on Thursday, Judge Larry Burns sentenced Loughner to seven consecutive life terms in prison plus 140 years, without the possibility of parole.
"But after today. After this moment. Here and now. Gabby and I are done thinking about you."
The seven life sentences represent one sentence for each of the six people that died at Loughner's hands, plus one for the attempted assassination of Giffords. Loughner will likely serve out his sentence in a federal prison psychiatric ward.
"He should never get out of prison. I find this is just punishment. He will never have the opportunity to pick up a gun and do this again," Burns said.
Loughner declined to address the court, but before the sentencing several shooting victims and their family members delivered emotional testimony.
"When you shot my precious husband Dorwan Stoddard, you ruined my life," said Mavy Stoddard, who was also shot three times by Loughner. "You took away my life, my love, my reason for living."
Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, took the podium to deliver their own prepared remarks, with Kelly speaking on behalf of his wife.
That bright and chilly Saturday morning, you killed six innocent people. Daughters and sons. Mothers and fathers. Grandparents and friends. They were devoted to their families, their communities, their places of worship. Gabby would trade her own life to bring back any one of those you savagely murdered on that day. …
And then there is what you took from Gabby. Her life has been forever changed. Plans she had for our family and her career have been immeasurably altered. Every day is a continuous struggle to do those things she was once so very good at. … There’s more. Gabby struggles to walk. Her right arm is paralyzed. She is partially blind. Gabby works harder in one minute of an hour — fighting to make each individual moment count for something — than most of us work in an entire day.
Mr. Loughner, by making death and producing tragedy, you sought to extinguish the beauty of life. To diminish potential. To strain love. And to cancel ideas. You tried to create for all of us a world as dark and evil as your own. But know this, and remember it always: You failed. …
Mr. Loughner, pay close attention to this: Though you are mentally ill, you are responsible for the death and hurt you inflicted upon all of us on January 8th of last year. You know this. Gabby and I know this. Everyone in this courtroom knows this.
You have decades upon decades to contemplate what you did. But after today. After this moment. Here and now. Gabby and I are done thinking about you."
The couple moved back to Tucson in August after Giffords had undergone 18 months of intensive rehabilitation therapy at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston.