The man who shot a former US congresswoman in the head during a rampage that left six people dead and 13 wounded has been sentenced to a life term.
Jared Lee Loughner’s sentencing was preceded by emotional testimony from victims and their families who confronted him for the first time since the January 2011 shooting in the state of Arizona.
One of his victims, former US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, watched as her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly made an impassioned statement on her behalf that was directed at Loughner.
“Loughner, you may have put a bullet through her head, but you have not put a dent in her spirit. Gabby and I are done thinking about you,” Kelly said.
“You sought to extinguish the beauty of life,” he added. “You tried to create for us a world as dark and evil as your own. Know this and remember it always: You failed.”
Loughner, 24, chose not to speak at the hearing, after pleading guilty three months ago to 19 federal charges under an agreement that guaranteed he would not be executed and would spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Loughner, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and has been on medication since the shootings, was ruled mentally competent to plead guilty.
Other victims scolded Loughner in court, “We’ve been told about your demons, about the illness that skewed your thinking,” said Susan Hileman, who was shot three times. “Your parents, your schools, your community, they all failed you.”
In January 2011, Loughner opened fire at a public event in Tucson, Arizona that was being hosted by Giffords, then a member of the US House of Representatives. He was armed with a loaded pistol and 60 rounds of extra ammunition.
In less than 30 seconds Loughner fired 31 shots and stopped shooting only when he paused to reload his gun. He was eventually tackled and restrained by onlookers.
Giffords, 42, was gravely wounded after being shot in the head. She was initially in a coma, but has since made a remarkable recovery through physical and speech therapy. With limited ability, she can walk and talk.
Giffords formally resigned from Congress at the beginning of this year.
In September, she delivered the US Pledge of Allegiance at the Democratic National Convention that nominated Barack Obama for his second term as president.