In January of 2011, 24-year-old Jared Lee Loughner began a shooting rampage in a Arizona parking lot, killing six people and wounding several others including Rep Gabrielle Giffords who suffered a bullet to the skull.
Today, he was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns to life in prison. The verdict comes as a relief to Giffords (who was present in the courtroom with her astronaut husband, Mark Kelly) and the other victims who will be spared from testifying in a lengthy trial.
Loughner pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia, but a judge ruled him competent to understand his actions and the charges against him. Under the plea agreement, he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison with no possibility for parole.
Kelly made a statement on behalf of his wife confronting Loughner on his actions.
“Her [Giffords] life has been forever changed. Plans she had for our family and her career have been immeasurably altered,” Kelly said. “Every day is a continuous struggle to do those things she once was so good at.”
He went on to add, “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.”
Giffords kissed her husband when he was done and the two walked away. Loughner looked at his victims but showed no emotion or regret for his actions. His mother attended the hearing, sobbing throughout most of it.
Victim Susan Hileman also spoke to Loughner, shaking visibly as she told him, “You pointed a weapon and shot me three times. And now I walk out of this courtroom and into the rest of my life and I won’t think of you again.”
It is still unknown where Loughner will spend his life prison term.