On Thursday, Jared Lee Loughner was sentenced to life in prison after he pled guilty to the deadly shooting in Arizona that killed six and wounded many more. One of those wounded in the shooting was Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Loughner pled guilty to federal charges as part of an agreement that sentences him to life in prison without parole, according to ABC News.
The sentencing hearing on Thursday was the first time that Loughner was confronted by his victims, including Giffords, in court. Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly, spoke for his wife, telling Loughner how the shooting changed her life.
“Her 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. 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.”
Loughner did not speak at the hearing. He pled guilty three months ago to 19 charges. Following the shooting, Loughner was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was subjected to psychotropic drug treatments. The agreement was reached when a judge ruled that he was able to understand the charges filed against him.
“We’ve been told about your demons, about the illness that skewed your thinking,” Susan Hileman, a victim, said to Loughner. “Your parents, your schools, your community, they all failed you. “It’s all true. It’s not enough. 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.”
The majority of the victims, including Giffords, were open to the plea deal, which helped them move on from the shooting. Many of them did not want to endure a lengthy trial that rehashed the event. The psychologist appointed by the court to treat Loughner, Christina Pietz, said that a lengthy trial could cause Loughner’s mental condition to deteriorate.
Loughner originally thought that Giffords was dead when he was taken to a Missouri prison for treatment despite seeing videos of the shooting. After he was forcibly medicated he understood that she was alive. Prosecutors from Pima County have the discretion to seek the death penalty and no announcement was made if a decision has been made yet, according to Stephanie Coronado, the spokesperson for Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall.