November 12, 2012

Shooter of Giffords M.A. ’96 Sentenced to Life in Prison

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The shooter of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords M.A. ’96 (D-Ariz.) was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without parole at an emotional hearing attended by Giffords and other victims.

Jared Loughner shot Giffords in the head, killed six and wounded 14 others in a rampage outside a Tucson, Ariz. supermarket in January 2011. He was sentenced Thursday to seven consecutive life terms followed by 140 years in prison in a plea deal reached with prosecutors, who agreed not to pursue the death penalty because Loughner was mentally ill at the time of the shooting.

One by one, Loughner’s victims confronted Loughner in emotional speeches describing how he had irreversibly damaged their families and their lives, according to the Los Angeles Times. It was the first time Giffords had been face-to-face with her attacker.

When it was time for Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, to speak, the couple stood and looked directly at Loughner. Kelly described how Loughner had damaged his wife’s life, but not her spirit, as Loughner returned his gaze.

“Gabby would trade her own life for one you took on that day,” Kelly said, according to the LA Times.  “Every day is a continuous struggle to do the things she was once so very good at.”

“Mr. Loughner, you may have put a bullet through her head but you haven’t put a dent in her spirit and her commitment to make the world a better place,” Kelly said. “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.”

The confrontation was just one of many from Loughner’s victims. Susan Hileman, another victim standing in the supermarket parking lot that fateful day, shook as she addressed the court, according to the LA Times.

“You pointed a weapon and shot me three times,” she said as she fixed her gaze on Loughner. “And now I walk out of this courtroom and into the rest of my life and I won’t think of you again.”

Original Author: David Marten

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